Top critical review
on 19 February 2016
Having read the first book in the "Horsemen" Series, I was surprised when I was able to order this book - #3, but was unable to find #2 out on Kindle. One can only guess at the reasoning. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead and read this book while waiting on the second book in the series. I found Nathaniel's and Sophie's story to be somewhat boring, even though the storyline had great potential.
Sophie was well known to the band of brothers because she had followed the drum with her husband, Walter, who was a friend of the four horsemen. In fact, Rex, Kenneth, Nathaniel and Eden all considered Sophie to be one of the guys and had fond memories of hanging out with her and Walter but had not seen her since Waterloo where Walter met his demise after sacrificing himself to save others, including Wellington, which resulted in some fame for Walter and his widow, Sophie - to the point, the Crown presented her with a home and a pension. Can you beat that?
When the reader is first introduced to Sophie, she's undergoing a severe time of pressure due to mysterious "debts" that she has to pay. These debts are occurring more and more frequently and are beginning to have a dramatic effect on what had formerly been a somewhat comfortable life for Sophie. We are treated to the fact she has to wear the same couple of dresses when she goes about in Society - dresses that are now a few years old and quite out of style. At some point, things are so bad, Sophie must sell her pearl necklace and wedding ring. Of course, we surmise it's blackmail that surely has to do with her time in the military and it doesn't take much imagination to realize the blackmailer has some goods on Walter, but what? It was soon obvious to me so I suspect it will be easily figured out by most readers.
As for Nathaniel, apparently, he has been a responsible human being for the past two years, giving everything to his estate and his sisters, being celibate all the while, resulting in his joy at being back in London, hanging out with his friends, ensuring his little sister gets her turn in the Marriage Mart. He can’t wait to find some “bodily” satisfaction for himself. The only other remaining single horseman, Eden, happily takes Nathaniel to one of his favorite brothels where Nathaniel gets a good workout, but it leaves him feeling very unsatisfied in his emotions. From this point, the reader is treated to nearly nonstop thoughts about how he is really tired and weary of having to be serviced by prostitutes and simply wants some other type of arrangement - not a regular mistress, nor anyone's wife, but someone with whom he can have an active sex life - yes, a lover. But, not marriage, definitely not marriage - No Siree! - definitely not marriage.
Nathaniel and Sophie get together early on, although neither had planned any type of physical relationship to occur. From then on, we are treated to all Sophie's insecurities about her looks and lack of being good enough for Nathaniel for him to ever be interested in her as a wife, resulting in the reader having to focus overly long on her perceived lack of an equal footing in the relationship. Nathaniel has no small amount of guilt as he struggles with whether or not this new facet to the relationship, which he greatly enjoys, will ultimately harm their friendship.
One of the biggest factors that hindered the storyline for me included Sophie's unwillingness to entertain any thoughts of assistance from four strong, capable men – all who would have bent over backwards to help her. And, yet, when push comes to shove, she can straight talk with the best of them and stand up to all four of the horsemen - in fact, she does do so in a joy killer for everyone involved. Plus, she's willing to let all the friendships go down the drain rather than enlist the aid of people who truly care about her. I rarely confess to not liking a heroine, but I didn't care much for Sophie and although Nathaniel was a great guy in many ways, the storyline didn't do much for me.
**Spoiler** There is a secondary romance going on with Lavinia and Eden. Lavinia is Nathaniel’s ward, who is 25 and not allowed to receive her inheritance until she marries or until she turns 30. She’s quite a character and I found her snappy dialogue with everyone preferable to Sophie’s mixture of hardness and insecurities. I thought Eden would have his own story, but not sure since he and Lavinia are obviously getting matched up toward the end of this book.