Protecting Her Brother Before All Else
This book pulled me right in. How could it not? The heroine, Elizabeth Stafford, desperately wants to protect her 9-year-old half-brother, Thomas, whom their uncle wants to send away to become a cabin boy on a merchant vessel. Elizabeth and her brother are gentry. Their father and his new wife were killed in a carriage accident, apparently leaving them to the care of their uncle who wants little to do with them. In fact, he’s planning on marrying Elizabeth off to a man old enough to be her father.
Definitely an overriding a theme in this book is Elizabeth’s desire to protect her brother. In fact, she seems to have no sense of self-preservation; in her desire to keep her brother from harm, she is quite willing to put herself in jeopardy, whether bodily or risking her future. At times I found Elizabeth rather frustrating in this and other things. She just couldn’t seem to get it into her head that she truly could trust the hero, Barton, and his ability to protect both her and her brother. In trying to do the right thing, she instead consistently put herself In harm’s way in one way or another. It took her a long time to fully tell Barton her secrets, and then she kept creating more secrets that she kept from him! I honestly don’t understand how she could choose to protect the well-being of her servants over choosing the man that she professed to love (declared in her own mind).
I quite like the hero in this book. He really was a good and decent man who wanted to protect both Lizzie and Thomas, if only she would trust and let him. I liked how once he knew his feelings for her, he continued to look out for her even though she kept testing him because of her inability to trust. At a certain point, too, I actually felt bad for him because she just simply kept pushing him away, even when she did have a free choice. He made a few dumb choices, too. For instance, I can’t quite believe the one at the end where he actually trusted a guy he knew that he shouldn’t. Seriously, what was he thinking?
I actually thought the author did a fairly decent job of showing the push and pull of their relationship, especially when they were at Everly Manor (and even though I got frustrated with the heroine). I liked Thomas, though he seemed to have the maturity of a 6- or 7-year-old, not a 9-year-old. His interactions with Barton’s sister, Bethany, were sweet. I wasn’t too wild about Barton’s mother. What an interfering busybody!
What I didn’t like was at the end of the book author pulled out the standard villain ploys that seem all too common in Regency romance. I often wish that these books were more about character than unlikely things like kidnapping, thievery, fraud, double-cross, and murder. I seem to have read quite a few Regencies lately where the first part of the book is actually quite solid, but then the end degenerates into ploys like I just mentioned.
The book did have some issues with grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Close-sounding words were sometimes used instead of the right ones. Commas were problematic.