My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: A Shadows and Silk Novel #1
Publication Date: 9/27/17
WOW! I can hardly believe this is the author’s first novel. I’ve seen many novels by very experienced writers who haven’t done nearly as well as Ms. Darling has with her first. It is excellently written and the characters are fully developed, likable, and they make you want to get to know them better. I’m already looking forward to the next book in the series.
The book is set in 1824 Paris, so what is not to love. The wars are over, but there is still a chance that civil war could happen because France’s king is at death’s door. Should the monarch expire and his successor is assassinated, chaos could reign supreme in France and then spread to the rest of the continent and even destabilize England. While the main story is set in 1824 Paris, there are flashbacks to England and the initial meeting, marriage and separation of Nick and Mariana. While I’m not a big fan of flashbacks, these were well done and didn’t bother me.
Lady Mariana Montfort Asquith has lived separately from her husband for over ten years. He lives in Paris and only comes home to see his children three or four times a year and Mariana has little, if any, contact with him in all that time. She’s spent those ten years hardening her heart and trying not to love him because he betrayed her and ripped her heart from her chest. Now, she has a letter saying that he is either missing or deceased in Paris as part of his service to the Crown. Service to the Crown? He haphazardly worked for some minor government agency there didn’t he? Whatever it is, she has to know, so she’ll go to Paris and either find him alive or bring his body home to be buried in England.
Lord Nicholas Asquith was raised by parents that were at war with each other. Their battles, at home and in public, were legendary. They had married for love, but Nick’s father was a philanderer. Nick had always felt that he was to blame for all of the governesses who came and quickly left, but later he learned why that was so. That made Nick very distrustful of love because it would blow up on you and cause you no end of pain. No, Nick would have a society marriage where there were no emotions involved. Then, he met Lady Mariana Montfort and he was lost – he loved her more and more each day and then when the twins were born his heart swelled with even more love. Then, panic set in – he knew that it was only a matter of time before the love would blow up and his work for the Home Office put his family in danger. So – what could he do to keep them safe? Yep – I didn’t like his answer either.
When Mariana arrives in Paris, Nick wonders what is going on, but he knows that he MUST keep her at arm’s length because he can’t control himself around her. He’s created a popinjay persona that he always uses around her because he knows she hates it and will stay away from him. Then, he realizes that someone is using Mariana to get to him. He needs to know who that is and to flush them out because they are most likely the person who is plotting an assassination to destabilize France. Nick can’t get Mariana to leave, so he has no choice other than to involve her in foiling the plot and unmasking the master-mind. That way, he can keep an eye on her and keep her safe. As they work together, they each discover that the love isn’t gone – but – they still have to guard themselves because they know they can’t have a life together.
I had a very hard time getting to like Nick – well – maybe that isn’t accurate. I liked him right away – but I didn’t, in the least, like what he did. He chose – very deliberately – to leave the wife and children he loved – and he deliberately hurt her very, very deeply in doing so. We come to know his reasons for that, but like most of those kinds of reasons, they are pretty flimsy and could have been resolved with some good conversations and loving support.
What didn’t I like about the book? Well – I absolutely, completely and totally hated that the villain in the story got absolutely no punishment. None. Nada. Zip. This person hurt his own family deeply – especially his two nieces and their husbands, he plotted an assassination, he used an injured man unmercifully and he was going to destabilize a country and maybe even a continent. Yes – he does all of that and he gets no punishment. No – and that dissatisfaction caused me to reduce the star-ratings for the book.
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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”