Review: This is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War
This Is How You Lose the Time War
by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone did not make for the easiest reading but there is certainly something very engaging about it. I loved the creativity and imagination that went into it. It’s a very unique story and one I think I’ll be re reading at some point.


WHAT’S IT ABOUT

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

And thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more.

Except discovery of their bond would be death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war. That’s how war works. Right?


MY REVIEW

I loved the originality in this story but while the writing was wonderfully descriptive and imaginative I must admit I did not find this the easiest book to read. This was in part my own fault as I picked absolutely the wrong time to read this, work was busy, I was tired, stressed and having difficulty focusing on anything for any length of time, but both the concepts and the language made this a feel like a challenge rather than a pleasure at times.

From the very start you’re thrown in to the deep end of this story, no explanation, no scene setting and very little in the way of background. It quickly becomes clear that there are two factions in a war across time (yes the clue is in the title). One faction is seeking to influence the timeline to promote technology and progress, the other is looking for a return to nature. Each employs agents who hop back and forward in time, trying to influence the various different strands of time to their own ends by whatever means available.

Two of these agents are Red and Blue from whose points of view the story is told. They operate for rival factions but begin a correspondence which begins with a sort of taunting, challenging tone but quickly becomes something more. Given they come from opposing sides of the war however can they really trust each other, is a relationship of any kind possible or is it doomed to end in tragedy?

I really loved the creativity and imagination that went into the story. I loved the very different ways Red and Blue found to correspond with each other in the different times and places they visit. I loved the contents of the letters themselves and how the tone of them changes over the course of the book as they start to realize their feelings for each other. I loved the relationship that develops between them, there’s something very Romeo and Juliet about two people from warring factions who develop a bond despite their differences.

I even loved the little snippets of what they’re doing to subtly alter the timeline to their own ends, one through sudden force and violence, the other through slower more invasive means. I’ve always been fascinated by the notion of time travel and the various theories surrounding (paradox theory, the multiverse etc) so I find pretty much every story featuring it intriguing. I just wish we’d gotten a little more of this. More of the background to these two factions, who are they, what are they and how do they do what they do? Over the course of the story there are more and more details revealed about the societies Red and Blue come from but it wasn’t enough and somehow seemed to raise more questions than it answered. Even by the end I couldn’t figure out what Red and Blue were, they certainly didn’t seem to be human. I spent a lot of the story just sort of going with it.

I also felt like the voices of the two leads were lacking distinctiveness, it sometimes took me a few pages to figure out whose story I was in. This was no doubt in part due to the complexity of the language used by both authors which took up most of my concentration. It’s very flowery and very deliberately plays with words and phrases, something I’m really not sure I liked. I could certainly appreciate it but I did feel like it took something away from the underlying story and I spent more time trying to understand the words used than the underlying meaning and emotion behind them. This was not helped by the occasional wandering off on tangents within the letters themselves as I found my concentration wandering off on a tangent all of it’s own.

As I say though I was very tired and having difficulty focusing on pretty much anything for any length of time when reading this. It is however a fairly short book at only 200 odd pages so it didn’t take me too long to read it. I was left with a slight feeling of confusion at the end though and I do think it’s one I may re read at some point (when I’m less tired) as I feel like I’ve missed some things that I’ll pick up on a second reading.

Overall therefore a wonderfully unique read that I’m glad I’ve read even if I found it a challenging read at times. I would recommend this to anyone but maybe wait till you can give it your full focus.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: Just a Boyfriend by Sariah Wilson

Just a Boyfriend (End of the Line #2)
Just a Boyfriend
by Sariah Wilson was a sweet and fun read but probably not the most memorable of stories. The characters are likeable and there are some heavier themes which add a little depth but while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it as much as I hoped.


WHAT’S IT ABOUT

Ian “Bash” Sebastian and Ember Carlson were high school sweethearts…until their single parents got married. With one thorny twist of fate, a secret young crush went from on fire to off-limits. What could a new stepbrother do but bail? Now, after almost four years, Bash has returned to Seattle, and he’s back in Ember’s orbit at End of the Line. EOL is the go-to college for second-chance scholarships. But what about love?

Sure, the old hurts are there. So is the attraction—and it’s more magnetic than ever. Still, they’re adults now, levelheaded and just fine with the friend thing. If only to make family dinners less awkward. But when they agree to start dating other people, moving on threatens to bring them closer together than ever.

Is it time to admit their past to their parents? Even trickier, their hope for the future? Because Ember and Bash deserve a love story of their own. With all their defenses down, can they make it a happy ever after?


MY REVIEW

Sariah Wilson’s books are a fairly recent discovery for me and while this is only the second one I’ve read I will definitely be checking out her others as I very much enjoyed it.

This probably falls under the category of stepbrother romance although if you’re uncomfortable with that type of story I’d argue that it’s more of a second chance at love story as the main characters were in a relationship before their parents even met each other let alone got married. It was only as a result of their parent’s whirlwind romance that Bash and Ember went their separate ways, not seeing or speaking to each other for over three years until they’re reunited at EOL college.

Ember and Bash are very likeable characters and I love how the story (including the flashbacks to when they first met) are told from both points of view. It really gives you a chance to get to know them and how they feel. It is a little frustrating at times knowing how crazy they are about each other and how one honest conversation about how they feel could solve a whole lot of confusion and angst but given their family situation they’re doing the best they can with what they know.

It is quite a sweet and funny read and I did love the relationship between Bash and Ember. There is lots of funny banter and teasing (they’re both very competitive) but what I loved most is how well they know each other and how they’re there when the other needs them and neither of them has it easy. As well as the light and the fun there are also some heavier themes running through the story including drug addiction, abandonment, depression and cancer. I’m not entirely convinced the author covers them the way she should (and I would argue not all are necessary) but it does give the story a little more depth.

Given the characters are in college this probably fits into the new adult category but it reads a little on the young side. There is plenty of chemistry between Ember and Bash, and more than one heavy make out session but there’s no actual sex or for that matter bad language (I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that’s a good or bad thing). I also felt the character sometimes acted younger (and more inexperienced) than their age particularly when you consider everything they’ve gone through.

As far as secondary characters go, these were a bit of a mixed bag. Some of them were central to the story and I thought were very well rounded and believable, others I thought we could have done without as their role seemed to be to make a very obvious point. My biggest gripe however was probably with the parents. I’m not sure if it’s what the author intended but wow they really annoyed me with how selfish and controlling they were. Ember’s mother uses the cancer card to guilt trip Ember into doing whatever she wants and she’s completely oblivious to how she really feels. Bash’s father puts way too much responsibility on Bash and seems to completely completely reverse his opinion on Bash’s mother at one point. It did not make sense to me although I think I was mostly just annoyed that they put a stop to Bash and Ember’s relationship by running off and getting married after three weeks of dating and deciding they wanted everyone to be a big happy family.

Overall therefore I’d rate this as an enjoyable read but I’m not sure I’d consider it to be a memorable one. If you’re looking for a cute contemporary romance without an R Rating this may be right up your street.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. This has in no way influenced my review.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review: If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You
If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane takes one of my absolutely favourite romance tropes and brings something fresh to it. It’s sweet and funny but there’s also a surprising depth to it and I loved how relevant and real it felt. I loved the romance but I also loved the diversity, the friendships and the many other little threads woven through the story.


WHAT’S IT ABOUT

When Laurie’s partner of eighteen years, Dan, dumps her to ‘find himself’ (and leave her on the shelf at 36), she is blindsided. But not as blindsided as when he announces that his new girlfriend is now pregnant.

Working in the same office with Dan is soon unbearable – until the day she gets stuck in the lift with her handsome colleague Jamie. Jamie is looking for a way to improve his reputation in the company and what better way for Jamie to advance and Laurie to give the rumour mill something else to talk about than a fake relationship?

As Laurie and Jamie progress from Instagram snaps to dates, dancing and more, Laurie feels herself falling further for her unlikely hero. But you can’t break your heart in a fake relationship. Can you?


MY THOUGHTS

The fake relationship trope is one of absolute faves, so when I heard one of my favourite writers next book was gonna have just that I knew I had to read it. Yes it’s been done many, many times before but McFarlane brings something fresh and new to it. With a feminist slant to it and some clever messaging around social media and dating apps this feels very now and extremely relevant.

Main character Laurie is very relatable and incredibly likeable. She’s clever, determined, good at her job and fiercely loyal to her friends. Her devastation at long term partner Dan leaving her and moving straight on with another woman is very real and I was angry and upset right along with her.

It makes it very believable that she agrees to a fake relationship with co worker Jamie, despite warnings from her best friend Emily that she’s not cut out for lying and there will be consequences.

Jamie for his part is new book boyfriend material. He’s just lovely. He has an admittedly well deserved reputation with women but he’s completely upfront and honest in his views and is actually very sweet, attentive and considerate to Laurie.

They may be very different but it’s clear from the start that they’re perfect for each other. They just seem comfortable together, they understand each other and yes there is most definitely a spark. It isn’t insta love however so it’s a joy to watch them discover their feelings gradually.

I also have to say how much I loved the secondary characters. They may not all have big roles in the story but each and every one was memorable. Nadia in particular was an absolute stand out for me, in a batshit crazy, unintentionally hilarious kind of way. I want her as my bestie.

Another highlight for me was the depth to the story, the other threads woven through which highlighted a lot of very current issues, the everyday sexism Laurie faces in a workplace dominated by men, the racist comments, dating apps, the dangers of social media and also families. It’s incredibly well done by the author. I’m positive every book McFarlane writes is better than the last and I just love her style.

Overall this is a great read with real depth, diversity and wonderful writing. I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys a contemporary romance.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. This has in no way influenced my review. If I Never Met You will be published on the 1st January 2020 (so not too long to wait)

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Review: The Christmas Party by Karen Swan

The Christmas Party
The Christmas Party
by Karen Swan wasn’t quite the story I was hoping it would be but it’s an enjoyable read with a lot to like about it. I did struggle to connect to the characters but Swan’s writing is as wonderful as always and it’s something a little different from the usual festive reads.


THE BLURB

The Christmas Party is a delicious, page-turning story of romance, family and secrets, by the Sunday Times bestselling author Karen Swan.

When Declan Lorne, the last remaining knight in Ireland, dies suddenly, an ancient title passes with him. But his estate on Ireland’s rugged south-west coast is left to his three daughters. The two eldest, Ottie and Pip, inherit in line with expectations, but to everyone’s surprise – and dismay – it is the errant baby of the family, Willow, who gets the castle.

Why her? Something unknown – something terrible – made her turn her back on her family three years earlier, escaping to Dublin and vowing never to return. So when Willow quickly announces she is selling up, her revenge seems sweet and the once-close sisters are pushed to breaking point: in desperation, Pip risks everything to secure her own future, and Ottie makes a decision that will ruin lives. It’s each woman for herself.

Before moving in, Connor Shaye, the prospective new owner, negotiates throwing a lavish party at the castle just days before Christmas – his hello, their goodbye. But as their secrets begin to catch up with them, Ottie, Willow and Pip are forced to ask themselves which is harder: stepping into the future, or letting go of the past?


MY REVIEW

As a long time fan of Karen Swan I was very much looking forward to her latest book The Christmas Party but I’m sorry to say this didn’t wholly work for me. It’s not bad and I suspect there may be an element of it being me rather than the story but I struggled to get into it and just never seemed to connect.

Swan’s writing is as wonderful as always and it’s an intriguing premise, a family at war over an inheritance, the uncovering of secrets and long term resentments. Unfortunately however I couldn’t quite find a character I was invested in. The story is told from the point of view of three sisters, Ottie, Pip and Willow, the daughters of the last knight in Ireland. When their father dies, his title dies with him but in a shocking twist he leaves the castle and most of the estate to youngest daughter Willow, something none of them are happy about. Willow has been estranged from the family for a couple of years and doesn’t want to be pulled back. The others are unhappy that they were passed over. Matters are made worse when they find the estate is in financial difficulty and Willow has to make some tough choices.

If I did have some sympathy for a character in this story it would be Willow. She doesn’t ask to be landed with the responsibility of a failing estate, or to have to put her life in Dublin on hold but she steps up and does what she thinks is best with no support from the rest of her family. It does feel at times like she’s rushing things and that she’s being a little vindictive towards her parents but as the truth is revealed about events from the past it all becomes a little more understandable.

Ottie and Pip I found more difficult to like. Ottie as the oldest sister seems to feel the biggest slight about not inheriting more and is probably the coldest towards Willow, barely speaking to her let alone helping her. Ottie is also having an affair with a married man, a storyline I’m never overly keen on. I found it incredibly frustrating to read her obsessing over someone who was very clearly not as invested in the relationship as she is. She also comes across as quite spiteful and nasty at times.

Pip, I also struggled with. Stubborn, reckless and speaks her mind she comes across as very self centered and rude a lot of the time. I do like a character who’s determined and goes for what they want but Pip often goes too far, taking silly risks and not taking any one else’s feelings into consideration.

With characters I found it hard to like I was probably always going to have problems really enjoying this story and I certainly found it difficult to get into in the first half. I also found myself becoming frustrated with the whole family secret thing. I’m afraid the constant references to it and hints about what it could be were more annoying rather than intriguing and I just wanted it to be revealed so we could get on with the other elements of the book. I was itching for a big confrontation between the characters but instead there’s lots of silences and avoiding each other.

Once the characters started speaking their minds and the secrets were revealed the story became so much more engaging. I very much enjoyed the way the different threads came together and I came to like many of the characters. I just wish it hadn’t taken quite so long to get to that stage.

One thing I did love about this story was the setting on the rugged South West Coast of Ireland and I thought the author did a wonderful job of making you feel like you were there. I also really loved the idea of this grand old castle that’s fallen into disrepair. There’s also a little bit of romance in there which was definitely a highlight. I probably would have preferred it if the author had put more focus on that side of the story and less on the family secrets.

Overall therefore this was an okay read for me. I may have struggled to get into it but it certainly picked up towards the end and while it did frustrate me in places there were things to love about it, it certainly hasn’t put me off picking up the author’s next book.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an advance copy. This in no way influenced my review.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review: A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

A Wedding In December
A Wedding in December
is yet another fantastic festive read from Sarah Morgan. It’s sweet, funny and as always made me a little bit emotional (yep I cried). For me it wouldn’t be Christmas without a book by Morgan.


THE BLURB

In the snowy perfection of Aspen, the White family gathers for youngest daughter Rosie’s whirlwind Christmas wedding.

First to arrive are the bride’s parents, Maggie and Nick. Their daughter’s marriage is a milestone they are determined to celebrate wholeheartedly, but they are hiding a huge secret about their own: they are on the brink of divorce. After living apart for the last six months, the last thing they need is to be trapped together in an irresistibly romantic winter wonderland.

Rosie’s older sister Katie is also dreading the wedding. Worried that impulsive, sweet-hearted Rosie is making a mistake, Katie is determined to save her sister from herself. If only the irritatingly good-looking best man, Jordan, would stop interfering with her plans…

Bride-to-be Rosie loves her fiance but is having serious second thoughts. Except everyone has arrived – how can she tell them she’s not sure? As the big day gets closer, and emotions run even higher, this is one White family Christmas none of them will ever forget.


MY REVIEW

I can honestly say that one of the things I look forward to the most at Christmas is a new book by Sarah Morgan. They never fail to put me in the holiday spirit and this book is no exception. It’s sweet, it’s funny, it’s a little bit emotional and a whole lot addictive. Yet again I read the whole thing in a couple of days and it would’ve been even faster if I didn’t need to work.

The story centers on the White family [insert your own White Christmas joke here] and is told from the point of view of mother Maggie and her two daughters Katie and Rosie. I often struggle with multiple povs and I usually have a preference for one over the others but this time around I really enjoyed it. It’s great to have a book with three women at very different stages of their lives and to see the dynamics of the relationship between them from each pov.

Maggie, the mother of the family who I’m guessing is in her 50’s is at that stage in life where her children are grown and left the nest, leaving her feeling a little bit lost particularly as she has split from husband Nick.

Eldest daughter Katie is a doctor in a busy emergency department who sees people at their worst every day. In her early 30’s she doesn’t have the time for relationships and is struggling at work following a traumatic incident that’s left her doubting her abilities.

Baby of the family Rosie is a 22 year old student living in America who after a whirlwind romance with personal trainer Dan accepts his marriage proposal and the offer from his mother Catherine to hold the wedding at Christmas at their resort in Aspen. She loves her fiancee but after a call to Katie who believes her impulsive sister is making a mistake she starts to have doubts of her own.

As they all gather in Aspen for the big event each of these women is at a turning point in their life and has to decide what they want to do next. I really loved how this story brought together these very different women and it’s great to see an older character given some representation. If I had to choose I probably related most to Katie but I liked all three of the women and felt invested in all of their stories.

Like Morgan’s other recent books this story focuses more on family and friendships than romance, making it a very sweet read that’s perfect for the season. I loved the relationships between mother and daughters and also between the sisters. I also loved how each of the characters develops over the course of the story, how by getting away from everyday life they discover who they are and who they want to be.

That’s not to say there isn’t any romance, it wouldn’t be a Morgan book without a little bit of romance. Rosie is very much coupled up and Maggie is still getting over the end of a very long term relationship but sparks most definitely fly between Katie and best man Jordan and I think that was probably the highlight of the book for me. Aspen is just the perfect setting for romance and the author takes full advantage with a few of my favourite romance tropes thrown in.

As always Morgan’s writing is wonderfully warm and the descriptions made me feel like I was there in that winter wonderland, maybe someday. As always it’s packed full of emotion and as always I shed a couple of tears at certain points (Morgan’s books get me every single time).

This may not be my favourite book from the author but if you’re looking for a festive read to get you in the holiday spirit I highly recommend.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Review: The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen

The Shape of Night

With a combination of ghost story, romance and murder mystery The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen was not at all what I was expecting and I think may surprise a lot of her fans. It’s certainly different and I have to admit I found it addictive reading but I’m not convinced the romance side of the story really comes off and there are a few scenes I found disturbing.  If you’re looking for a Rizzoli and Isles type story you may be disappointed but if willing to give something very different a try you may enjoy this.


THE BLURB

We’ve all done things we’re ashamed of . . .

When Ava arrives at Brodie’s Watch, she thinks she has found the perfect place to hide from her past. Something terrible happened, something she is deeply ashamed of, and all she wants is to forget.

But the old house on the hill both welcomes and repels her and Ava quickly begins to suspect she is not alone. Either that or she is losing her mind.

The house is full of secrets, but is the creeping sense of danger coming from within its walls, or from somewhere else entirely?


MY REVIEW

As a long time fan of Tess Gerritsen, I have to admit I was a little surprised by this story. It’s not that I’m not happy she’s doing something different but this felt like one of those romantic suspense (with the emphasis on romance) books she wrote way back at the start of her career. I didn’t particularly mind this as I’ve loved pretty much everything she’s written but I suspect fans of her more recent thrillers may be a little disappointed.

It does have the quality of writing regular readers have come to expect from Gerritsen and I can’t deny it made for addictive reading, I read the whole thing in a day, but I’m not sure the combination of ghost story, murder mystery and romance really comes together. It feels like the romance takes centre stage and considering this is a Fifty Shades style relationship it makes for slightly disturbing reading.

I did find Ava to be a very intriguing character and for the most part likeable. She’s in Maine for the summer ostensibly to finish the cookbook she’s writing but in reality she’s running away from something terrible she’s done. She’s plagued by guilty feelings and has developed a bit of a drinking problem which makes you question just how reliable she is when she starts to question the disappearance of the previous resident in the house she’s renting and even more so when a ghostly apparition appears to her. I will admit I found it hard to accept how obsessive she became about the captain but I did like how different she was as a character and how she develops over the course of the story.

Where I struggled was the romance, I’m afraid it just stretched the bounds of credibility for me and there were elements that were problematic. I understand why the author went down that route but it feels abusive and unhealthy a lot of the time, and I’m saying this as someone who enjoyed Fifty Shades of Grey. There were a couple of scenes that I found disturbing to read and I suspect I won’t be the only one.

There are however other things to enjoy about this story. I loved the setting of a small town in Maine, the wonderful cast of secondary characters and all of the references to food. It made it very easy to imagine yourself there. I also liked the murder mystery even though I guessed pretty early on who the killer was. I just wish there had been a little more focus on this side of the story and a little less on the “romance”.

Overall therefore, my feelings are decidedly mixed. I did enjoy it for the most part, the speed I read it certainly supports that, I’m just struggling to get past the issues I had with the romance. Don’t let my feelings put you off though, if you’re curious it’s worth a read.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an advance reader copy via NetGalley. This has in no way influenced my review

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Review: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women, #1)
Bringing Down the Duke
by Evie Dunmore

Unexpected and brilliant. This is not your standard historical romance.


THE BLURB

A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar’s daughter takes on a duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke…


MY REVIEW

I read a lot of historical romances so I went into this thinking it would be the usual, funny, flirty, light and fluffy read I’ve come to expect but this was so much more.

The blurb does make you think it’s going to be a classic enemies to lovers story (which I do love) or maybe a fairy tale romance with echoes of Beauty and the Beast, there is after all an unconventional heroine who is tasked with changing the view of the brooding hero but it goes a lot deeper than this.

Annabelle Archer does have a bit of a Belle feel to her, she’s the brilliant but poor daughter of a clergyman who after her father, who she was very close to, dies is forced to rely on the charity of her not very nice cousin. But Annabelle wants more out of life than being an over-educated scivvy so when she gets the opportunity to be one of the first women admitted to Oxford University she jumps at it. There’s just one problem, her studies are sponsored by the women’s suffrage movement and she’s been given the job of convincing one of the most influential men in the country to support the cause.

Her target is the elusive Duke of Montgomery, a rich and powerful man who has been tasked by the Queen with making sure the very conservative and traditional Tory party win at the next election. He has a lot at more at stake in this than just keeping the Queen’s favour however and regardless of his own beliefs or his growing attraction for Annabelle he can’t risk failure.

Two people on different sides who can’t help falling in love, so far so tropey right? And it does have a lot of the standard romance scenes, there are misunderstandings, arguments, a rescue (or three) and even the trapped together but it plays around with them and openly acknowledges them for what they are. Our damsel chides herself for falling into the clichés and knows she can’t count on a man to rescue her.

I really loved Annabelle, she is not as naive and innocent as she first appears. She knows from personal experience how dangerous this man’s world is for a single woman with no fortune, family or name to protect her. I liked how independent she was but what I loved was how self aware she was. Annabelle knows that with her relatively low social standing a Duke is not going to marry her but she doesn’t want to just settle for the first man who offers protection and she won’t sacrifice her principles or what little freedom she has. I also loved how loyal she was to her friends and how she constantly tries to protect them.

Sebastian (the Duke) is a little more difficult to like. He’s very reserved, principled and thinks that he knows best about everything. He’s unwilling to compromise or risk his position and reputation and holds himself (and everyone around him) to a ridiculously high standard. There are reasons for this and as these are revealed and his character develops he does grow on you but I’m still not wholly sure I liked him.

With their respective positions this is a relationship that’s doomed from the get go and I loved how realistic the story was around that. Any fantasy around love conquering all is quickly dispelled and while there are some wonderful moments between them reality very quickly comes crashing in to sour them. The obstacles between them seem insurmountable and I genuinely had no idea where the story would go. The chances of it ending badly were just as high as everyone living happily ever after.

For a debut novel this truly is impressive. The pacing is spot on and the writing is witty and clever. What I love most though is how accurately it captures the attitudes and issues of the time. I will confess to being largely ignorant of what it was really like to be a woman in that time or even the challenges the women’s suffrage movement faced. Most historical romances tend to pick different time periods when women were happier or at least more accepting of their lot. I think the author did a wonderful job of portraying the challenges of the time without glossing over them.

Overall this was an absolutely wonderful and unexpected read and I highly recommend.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for providing me with an advance copy. This has in no way influenced my review.