This story suffers from novella-itis. The premise is interesting, but the development suffers due to the story length. Too many scenes are wrapped up quickly or happen off page. And the last chapter reads more like an epilogue that wraps everything up in an easy and shiny bow. Is it bad? No. It was a fairly enjoyable read. But it wasn’t as good as it could have been.
Devon is a soldier suffering gravely from his service at the battle of Waterloo. The fighting tore him up, both physically and emotionally. His leg was injured and still pains him to this day; but far worse than that are the dreams and memories that haunt him. Though he saved countless lives, all he can think about was the young captain who put himself in harm’s way and died saving his life.
Cathleen is a good woman, but widowhood has forced her to depend on her wastrel brother for survival. So when he forces her into a scheme to blackmail Devon, she has little choice but to participate. The setup forces her into bed with a drunk and drugged Devon to create the illusion they were intimate. But when he cries out in the night, she is compelled to comfort him. For that, and other reasons that come out over the course of the story, Devon decides to marry her instead of paying her brother off.
Now if you’re thinking the entire relationship is based on Cathleen’s lie, don’t. She tells him the truth right off the bat. But he keeps a whopper of a secret from her. He lies, but at the same time, constantly mistrusts her intentions. I understand why, but it felt kind of thin. A few things did, really. The villains –Cathleen’s brother and wife– were cookie-cutter bad guys. The sex scenes started good and ended quickly. Everything moved really quickly. And that last chapter I mentioned just made me roll my eyes.
But, I did like Devon. His character was developed enough that we could see he is a good man. And Cathleen is the steady and healing hand he so desperately needs. They fit together. The best parts of the story are in their falling in love –and filling in the missing pieces the other one needs.
All in all, it was an ok read. But it could have been better.
Rating: C*ARC Provided by Carina Press via NetGalley