This is certainly the most unusual historical romance I've read, and I feel it fair to warn readers not to be taken in by the cliched and seemingly benign cover. It is in many aspects confusing, but nothing in the story can be compared to the pandemonium that occurred in the end, which frankly, frightened me a bit. Not that the resolution with the villain was unexpected, mind you, but the manner in which this was done -- and it revealed a hidden ruthlessness to the heroine that I was shocked to discover. As there was never a year given in the story, I'm tempted to judge by all the "modernisms" in this story and put it in the Victorian rather than the Regency (though given the author's previous works, it is probably set in the Regency period). The confusing aspects are a result of several factors, one of which being that the story begin very much in medias res. The heroine, Wendy, attempted to avoid being trapped into another bargain with the villain, who had been using her brother's gambling debts as a means of keeping her indebted to her, to eventually get her into his bed. Then, we jump to the hero -- Radley's perspective as he had always wanted to court Wendy but had been waiting until he obtains a captain's position in order to do so. But as the story progresses, he is suddenly given a dukedom and Wendy is no longer someone of his social equal. To compound the problem, Radley, Wendy and the villain all knew each other while they were growing up. And thus a triangular relationship is established by which the story progresses in increments of machinations, vast confusion - not to mention disturbances by (somewhat) insane and otherwise troublesome relatives, least of all a very abrupt ending that leaves me unconvinced of the protagonists' romance factor. By now you may wonder if this novel is truly as atrocious as I describe it so. No, it is not, but unfortunately I was too confused and astounded by the bloodthirstiness and rather insane behavior/plans of some of the characters to appreciate much of this story. In all seriousness, I would feel better were this labeled historical fiction with suspense elements rather than historical romance. My final verdict: I have briefly described my opinion of this book which can be interpreted as a mildly or overtly disfavorable opinion.
I wanted to like this, but I couldn't. Jade Lee's writing is good, but to me it seemed too modern, but my main problem was with the characters and plot. Rating: