This was a terribly frustrating historical romance. I did not like it. Here's why.
It's about Holt, a long-vanished heir to an earldom that has returned after his father's death. However, he's not yet sure that he wants to take his position as earl. What he does want to do is mend the rift between his family and the Seacrests; currently they're in the midst of a feud that might very well destroy Holt's family's business. On his first day out and about, though, he runs into Sophie and they immediately have a tryst--though no sex. And so Holt gets sucked into her charm...
I feel like Campisi didn't know where she wanted the plot of this to go. It starts out like the feud is going to be a central point of the plot when Holt's brother alleges the Seacrest family has paid people to burn several of Holt's family's ships. Holt immediately inserts himself into the Seacrest family as a business partner, and helps them mend the business. The feud is never really mentioned again. Instead, a different feud emerges--one that alleges that Holt's mother and Sophie's father had an affair, and that is what has caused the argument. And then there's some lady creeping around in the shadows--but not until two-thirds of the way through the book--who wants Holt for herself for some really weird reasons. And then there's a bunch of other convoluted stuff going on that seems like it wants to be Jane Eyre-gothic but instead it just comes across as muddled and confused.
Sophie was sweet, Holt made me want to punch him. He claims that Sophie can't be a virgin, because no virgin reacts to amorous situations like she does. He says mean, hateful things and then just abandons her after coercing her into marrying him. And then, just a few pages later, he's all possessive and he loves her and blah-blah-blah. He's a psycho. Which, given his mother, makes sense. Geeze.
The pacing here was also very strange. It goes from zero to sixty and back to zero--nothing happens, and then there's suddenly a tryst with no build up at all, and then they're back to almost ignoring each other until the next tryst, which again comes out of nowhere. And once everything seems like it's resolved, it feels like Campisi felt like the book just wasn't long enough, so she tacked another plot onto the end which hadn't really been present throughout the rest of the book. And then there's Francie! Why was she even included? She had no impact on the plot at all; the process and outcome were exactly the same as they would have been if she hadn't been featured at all. And why did every appearance of hers have to feature her having sex with her husband? I get it, it's a historical romance and those are known for their steamy scenes, but it seems that the focus of those should have remained on the main couple (and those scenes were pretty good!), not some superfluous extras that were just tacked on to the side.
This book was a hot mess. I liked Jason and would like to know his story, but I don't think I'm quite intrigued enough to brave Campisi's plot constructions again.
1.5 to 2 stars out of 5.