My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Shaws #2
Publication Date: 6/26/18
If you love historical accuracy rather than historical fantasy, then you might want to try this author. The Shaws is a spin-off series from The Emperors of London series and while it doesn’t have the panache and excitement of the Emperors, it is still a very good series and is very well done. I wonder if the difference might be that this series is missing the over-arching theme that was present in Emperors.
Lady Drusilla Shaw isn’t shy, but she is a bit of an introvert and at five and twenty, she is pretty much on-the-shelf. Her parents have told her that this is the last season they will actively support her on the marriage mart. She must either choose from one of the suitors who has asked to court her or become a full-fledged spinster. Dru isn’t excited about any of the candidates on the list, but she has sorta-kinda resigned herself to choose among the suitors on her mother’s list. Then, she has a dance with Oliver and is entranced – until he turns and leaves her mid-dance at her aunt’s ball. She’s not entranced any longer – she dislikes him thoroughly. How does she display that anger? Well, Dru is a bit of a writer – not for publication, but for her own enjoyment. So, she writes a story with Oliver as the villain. Her vivid imagination invents some scenarios that hit too close to the reality in Oliver’s life.
Oliver, Duke of Mountsorrel, is being pressured by his mother to marry and, to be honest, he feels that he needs to marry as well. He needs to produce an heir since his brother is unable to step into that role should the need arise. So, while he is in London on other business, he will just find himself a bride. His plan? Well, he’ll attend balls and dance with all of the debutants until he decides on one. Then, he dances with one of the older unmarried ladies and finds himself enchanted – until – she teasingly starts throwing out potential answers to a question. Some of those answers are dreadfully close to his real life and his anger flares. He spins around and walks off the dance floor leaving her standing.
Oliver comes by Dru’s home the following morning to apologize and he’s even more entranced by her. Then, accidents start to happen to them. Their curricle crashes and it could have killed them both – then a horse with a stone that could have thrown Dru and caused her harm. What is behind all of these accidents? Who would want to harm Dru? Or, is it Oliver who is the target? Well – the answer is that there is a real snake-in-the-grass with a deadly plot and you’ll just have to read the book to find out who it is and why they are doing it.
The reason that this is my least favorite of the Shaws/Emperor’s series is that the characters are both pretty milquetoast. I loved them, but neither of them was an alpha. Each of them gets intensely angry at times, but neither of them really does anything about it. He just gives her the cold shoulder and she writes nasty things about him in a story. Neither of those solves anything. They don’t talk. If either of them had talked to the other or even to someone else, most of the problems could have been smoothed over. Also, both of them are perfectly willing to believe the worst of the other with absolutely no evidence. She is too easily the ‘poor pitiful me’, wallow in self-pity type and he is not one who takes the bull by the horns, stands up for himself and Dru, and solves whatever issues they have. While Beta heroes can be wonderful and interesting leads if done well, Oliver seems to have missed the mark just a bit.
All-in-all this was a lovely read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.