Reviewed by Chris
AUTHOR: Ruby Moone
PUBLISHER: JMS Books
LENGTH: 227 pages
RELEASE DATE: August 26, 2017
Will Marsden is a man on the run from his memories and his past. Steward of Denton Manor was a good position until Captain Dearne, the owner, lost the manor on the turn of a card. When the feckless Dearne is dumped unconscious and near death on his doorstep, Will grudgingly accepts an enormous sum of money to care for him.
Dearne regains consciousness but has no memories of how he came to be in the bed of a dark-haired, angry, but gorgeous man or how he came to be so badly injured.
When nightmares drive Dearne into Will’s arms every night, the attraction between them explodes. As Dearne battles with lost memories, he is forced to accept the fact that someone in his family wants him dead, and Will is forced to confront his past head on. Will the revelations uncovered tear them apart?
To say that the last person on the planet that Will Marsden wants to see right at that moment was Captain fucking Dearne, would be an understatement. He might not have much in the world, but what he did have, before Captain “I Can’t Win at Cards to Save My Life or My Fortune” Dearne lost his inheritance, was a pretty damn good job. But since part of that inheritance was the very manor Will was steward of, that job will soon no longer be in Will’s possession. No job means no longer having a place to live, or a steady paycheck in which to buy one.
So, you can imagine Will’s extreme pleasure at having Dearne’s half-dead body practically dropped at his feet. Which, on any other day, would be one hell of a boon. That was not this day. This day is the day in which he lets some strange lady convince him (for a very reasonable fee, he thinks) to take care of the very bane of his existence. And boy does he regret that. Especially when it becomes clear that not only is whoever thrashed Dearne out to finish the job, but Dearne is doing a rather good job at taking out all the walls Will had thrown up to protect himself.
I’ve found myself reading an awful lot of historicals lately, so when the came up on offer for review it didn’t take much to convince me to give it a try. I’m clearly in the mood this kind of thing, and the blurb really made it sound interesting.
It turned out to be a good choice.
I really like Will. He is a very good balance of grumpy and willing to lend a hand. And as I got to know more about him–and I have to say I really like the slow unfolding of his past–I just fell more in love with him. There are certainly things I’d love to know more about, but for the most part I found him to be one of the most interesting parts of this book.
We don’t get quite as much about Dearne, even though he is basically the thing that moves the plot for most of the story, but I found him to work nicely as well. I also like how it didn’t go full-on amnesia here, but instead stuck to something much closer to the truth. I’m not a huge fan of amnesia stories, so I appreciated it not having Dearne forget everything about himself, instead of just what happened in the short time preceding his injuries. It kept the mystery in the story, but didn’t have some big “I remember everything!” scene, which I mostly find annoying.
I am a little unsure how I feel about the mystery, though. For the most part, it did a great job of keeping me interested. And it pulled a nice twist out of its hat at the end, which I really am thankful for. On the other hand, in order for the mystery to drag on as long as it did, it required all the characters to act a bit stupid. Maybe they were all too close to the problem, but honestly, if they had sat down and created a short list of everyone who could have done the deed, well, this book could have been at least 50, if not more, pages shorter. But that twist…damn. I did like that.
Mostly the reason this isn’t higher scored is because of the “tie everything up in a bow” endings. Everyone had to have closure of some type, and it seemed a bit unrealistic. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, not every story require a HEA for everyone in the story (minus the villains, of course). The whole thing with Will’s past felt a bit too rushed and far too jammed into the plot. Maybe not everything, but certainly that last scene with him and…well, spoilers. Also, not a huge fan of the ending ending. I get it, I guess this is the “as close as you’re gonna get” historical HEA, but it didn’t work for me. I just dislike when this happens in stories. Others might not be so bugged by it, but it is something that just doesn’t sit right with me.
Leaving that aside, though, I must admit to enjoying this book. The slow-burn first half of the book was so my jam–though I think I lost a bit of interest in how many sex scenes it tried to work into the story to make up for that slowness. But the characters had really good chemistry, even when they didn’t like each other very much, and any time it was just the two of them talking I was so into it. If you like historicals set in this time period, and you are looking for something on the light side, this will probably suit your needs very well.