I really debated between giving this book two stars or one; ultimately I went with one star because it was honestly one of the most boring books I’ve read in years. That’s not to say that nothing happens in this book, a lot goes on, all of it is boring.
The story is about the Viola, a Duke’s widow and patroness/nurse in a free hospital for the poor and Henry Lowell, a nice future Viscount who is also her friend’s brother. When I think of Viola and Henry as characters, very little comes to mind. Viola was timid and indecisive; Henry was so nice it was a little absurd. I have no idea why Henry was so drawn to Viola but to give this book a positive, I did like how supportive Henry was of Viola’s medical career.
I think part of the problem with this story was that Henry and Viola were drawn together easily, so the author threw in a lot of superfluous plot points, which ultimately just felt like filler. Just off the top of my head, the author covered: building a spa, an evil relative, a court case, a helpful king of the underground, a duel, more than one operation, gardening, a day trip, a wedding, and lots of pool hall games. Plus, even though there was a lot of instalove, this was a slow burn novel.
With all of this going on, you would have thought the story would keep my attention. Wrong. Most of the many plot points felt underdeveloped and rushed, mostly because they didn’t move the story forward. The plot, and the romance were buried under historical facts and secondary characters.
Through the whole book, I had to actively try to care about a sad Viola and an overly nice Henry. By the time Henry and Viola were talking with their lawyer, I almost DNF’s the book because of all the heavy-handed foreshadowing and Viola’s lack of confidence. I understand the restrictions of the time period, but for being portrayed as a strong and independent woman, Viola had a complete lack of confidence in her looks, her skills as a nurse, or her experience as a businesswoman.
I also thought that Henry’s much-touted reputation as a rake was ridiculous. He was so far from being a rake it was silly, and I think him purposely tarnishing his reputation to avid marriage-minded women was absolutely absurd.
Side note: I like a beta hero as much as the next girl, but could Henry have maybe won any of the (many) fights he was in? He spent a good part of this book either bleeding or recovering because he kept losing fights.
Overall, I could continue on about my issues with this book, but I don’t want to dwell on it. This was my first Sophie Barnes novel and, unfortunately, I have no interest in picking up a second one.
**I received an ARC of this book in order to provide an honest review**
BUY THE BOOK