This was in-between for me. Not bad, not great. It just fell completely flat for me. First Elizabeth Hoyt book I've read, while I ended up liking it, I struggled w/ this particular story. It took me awhile to get to even 'liking' it to be honest. I wasn't blown away and the characters took a while to grow on me. I was half way into the book and found myself not caring for either the hero or heroine...not a good a sign. I was told by several that this series was best read in order or else I would be lost. The only two that caught my interest were this one and TBAB simply because of the blurb on the back of the book. I know there is a mystery plot that weaves throughout the four books, but I'm more interested in the couple's stories. As for this couple's story, let's just say, not what I was expecting to get.
Lady Melisande Fleming has been in love with Lord Vale for years and when he's left at the alter unexpectedly, Melisande jumps at the chance and offers to be his bride. The issue I had right from the start and made this story drag out forever for me was the heroine's stand point of refusing to let Jasper know about her true feelings and not letting him in when he would try to woo her. She wanted him for herself but REFUSED to let him know anything about her true feelings and didn't want to open up her heart. That made absolutely no sense to me. I just couldn’t understand the whole point of her being brave enough to propose marriage to him only to turn around and act stiff and reserved around him, fearing he would find out her true feelings. It defeats the whole purpose of getting married if you ask me. You've wanted him, you got him yet you don't want to love again? Huh? She found love once before and was burned badly by it and doesn’t want to go through that again, understandable but why put yourself out there again, marry the man of your dreams, the man you love but not want to give anything in return or open up to him? It was very frustrating to say the least. Plus her standoffish and brittle and sometimes impatient attitude towards him did not endear me to her. It was emphasized more than once that she's secretly loved this man for years yet her behavior around him left me completely baffled. He would ask her questions about herself and she would instantly be suspicious and on guard and ask him why. It drove me nuts everytime she would put up a wall and snap at him 'you don't know me'... yeah? well if you tried
talking to him then maybe he would know you. RME.
I just really have no patience for brittle uptight heroines who go out of their way to make things more difficult not only for themselves but the hero as well. It's nonsensical and to be blunt...idiotic.
As for the plot, I wanted more. I felt it was one of those books where it fell into the tedious pattern of depicting the married couple's life day by day where nothing really happens except the constant 180 turns w/ Melisande or Jasper clamming up and avoiding one another. It was like the two lived completely separate lives. I found it incredibly bizarre how he would go out at evenings to balls and gatherings and not even bother to ask her to accompany him. Um huh?? Of course she's not a social butterfly and hates going out but I felt he could have compromised. Same goes for her. I just did not get that connection or chemistry between the two. It was very frustrating because I felt some of the characters' motivations weren't explained or didn't make sense. I also thought the dialogue/grammar was a little weird at times but I guess it's more because I'm new to Hoyt's writing style maybe??
That being said, things started to pick up in the second half of the book, I grew to like and understand both characters more and see the affection and secrete love grow stronger I just really wish Hoyt emphasized this more through the book and did something more with it. I really liked the last chapter wished I got more of that through the book. lol I also felt Jasper's PTSD from the his soldiering days could have been pushed more. We saw him talking about it, thinking about it but he covered a lot of it up with a jolly humorous facade who'd like to laugh and have fun. Yes, he finally opened up to Melisande about it and it played into the mystery plot of who betrayed his regiment during the Spinner's Falls massacre, but I wanted more, was expecting more.
I also thought the little side-love story between Melisande's maid Sally and Jasper's valet Mr. Pynch was really sweet and endearing. The little snippets of them was very cute and made me actually want more of them. They made such a surprise pairing, complete polar opposites, I love stories like that. All in all, it was good her writing style takes some getting used to though. It didn't really motivate me to read her other books but I'm gonna give her another try. I just really hope the next one is better than this. *crosses fingers*