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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Isabella Cale has set up a nice life for herself in Scotland, with an imitation jewelry making business creating a profit and a daughter whom she adores. Everything is going rather smoothly until her husband shows back up. Ten years after he abandoned her, she wants nothing to do with him. After all, he helped her family steal royal jewels and then vanished with his share of the spoils. But when she sets eyes on him, he seems furious with her for setting him up and deserting him, which she most certainly did not do. Is there more to this story than the main two are aware of? Can they find their way back to each other?
Isa is the hardworking type of heroine that we don't see overly much in historical romances. Working women were shunned in that time period, so it's completely understandable that they were dependent on their husbands or fathers or various other relatives for their livelihood. After she was abandoned by her husband, she refused to continue living with her controlling sister and brother-in-law, not with the happiness of her future child hanging in the balance and she convinces a fellow imitation jewelry maker to become her partner in the business he was moving to Scotland. She has worked and toiled to build their business and is now considered a respectable woman. She has even caught the eye of a Baron, though she knows nothing but friendship will even come from it. She was strong and determined to protect her child, regardless of any consequences.
Victor, her husband, is the upstanding citizen that was left holding the bag after Isa's sister and brother-in-law made off with the jewels. Since there was never any concrete proof, he could not be hanged for the crime, but that doesn't mean they didn't interrogate and torture the poor fellow. He harbors such bitter rage over the theft and Isa's abandonment that it never even occurs to him that maybe she was just as much of a pawn as he was. He's not the most swoon-worthy HR hero I've read, but I definitely could sympathize with his situation.
This is my very favorite type of historical romance novel. Lies and misunderstandings separating our beloved couple and then smackdown confrontation and love when the two figure out they were mislead or duped. I love the dancing around each other trying not to reveal too much of their current situation while fighting the ever-present desire for each other. I love (love love) reading the confrontation where both parties learn of the deception and go all lovey-dovey because they realize they both are still in love. I love that whole bit.
Sabrina Jeffries has never been my favorite writer of this genre, but she is quickly gaining my respect. This novel in particular was intriguing and addictive, even if the love scenes were a bit mediocre. I found it impossible to put this book down, anxious to find out if Isa's sister (and brother-in-law) were going to find her and what would happen when they did. Also how Victor would take the news that he had a child he was unaware of. Sooo much drama, but the best kind of drama. The kind that keeps you coming back for more instead of rolling your eyes in exasperation.
I know I keep saying this, but I really must make reading these more of a priority. I know I love YA (and NA), but there is just something more magical about this particular genre. I don't know if it's the writer's talent or the setting or just the storyline itself, but reading these are my biggest comfort read. It's like slipping into an old pair of jeans that magically still fit perfectly even though you are not the same as you were when you were them in the past. You can find everything you'll ever need in a historical romance here and I highly recommend it to all my historical romance readers!
****Thank you to Pocket Books for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****