Rich characterization and complex themes heighten the drama of this enticing Victorian-era romance by Caldwell (the Heart of a Duke series). Adair Thorne experiences simultaneous aversion and amore for 20-year-old-Cleopatra Killoran, whom he dubs the Hellion, when she moves into his family’s home. The Killorans and Thornes have been at odds for years, but the Thornes owe the Killorans a favor, and, to repay it, Adair’s upper-class sister-in-law promises to take Cleo in and help her find a noble husband. The story’s dramatic first chapters and vivid descriptions immediately convey the setting of early Victorian London, in addition to introducing themes of class mobility, social values, and wary expectations based on unhappy history. The main characters frequently switch between formal and Cockney English (Cleo goes from “Don’t tell me wot Oi need” to “I want to see it” in less than a page), which reminds readers of complicated movement between social classes but distracts from the flow of dialogue. Fortunately, in addition to a strong plot, this story boasts actualized characters whose personal demons are clear and credible. The chemistry between the protagonists is seductive and palpable, with their family history of hatred played against their personal similarities and growing attraction to create an atmospheric and captivating romance. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/08/2018 Release date: 04/01/2018 Genre: Fiction
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