Ah, historical romance! This was the monthly read for the Unapologetic Romance Readers for July 2017--historical romance is a perpetual favorite in that group since it seems to strike more positive notes for more people, at least if our discussions are any indication. I was a bit disappointed because this wasn't my nomination and I actually didn't have high hopes for it, but I was pleasantly surprised.
The story is about Eve Morris, whose brother dies in the war against Napoleon. The brother's commanding officer, Aidan Bedwyn, promised Percy before he died that he would care for Eve and protect her no matter what, though he didn't fully grasp what he was promising when he made said promise. Eve doesn't want Aidan's protection, though she desperately wants to find a way out of her predicament. The predicament in question? Due to a quirk in her father's will, because Eve is unmarried and her brother died less than a year after their father, her estate is set to go to her nasty cousin, leaving Eve and her contingent of "lame ducks," such as former criminals, a fallen woman, and an amputee, completely homeless. Aidan convinces Eve to marry him as a matter of convenience so she can keep the estate, and away we go.
I didn't feel like Aidan and Eve had a ton of chemistry here, but this was a good story of learning to love the one you're with. They slowly grow closer to each other over the two months of Aidan's leave, first on a brief trip to London to marry, and then when Eve is dragged back to London by Aidan's overbearing brother. Like many first books in historical romance series, however, this seems to serve mainly as a launch pad for introducing the other characters in the Bedwyn family, who are obviously the protagonists of their own string of books. I liked that Balogh didn't start with the most prominent member of the family, which would be the oldest brother, Wulf, who is a duke, and that she instead started with the second brother, Aidan. And I liked Eve as a character, as well. The two of the didn't communicate, a constant problem in romances, but I could somewhat understand it given their backgrounds and the nature of how their relationship began. Neither of them wanted to become emotionally entangled in a relationship that was never meant to last, and which they both believed the other didn't want to last. Counterproductive? Yes. Effective for romantic drama? Also yes.
Was this the best historical romance I've ever read? No. It didn't snap and pop like some others, didn't have me devouring page after page. The chemistry wasn't super apparent to me, either, and while I don't demand love at first sight (which can be downright sickening) I do like to see some good chemistry. But I think this was a solid base for a series and am looking forward to reading the others.
3 stars out of 5.