|Don't judge this one by its cover!|
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm not a big romance reader, but I enjoy the occasional indulgence of one the same way I do the occasional rich, chocolaty dessert. Well, if it's it's good, anyway. If it doesn't grab me then I'm not shy about quitting a few chapters or pages in. I had the opportunity to pick up a copy of "Darling Beast", a charming historical romance, directly from the author this past weekend at the 2015 Emerald City Writers Conference. Ms. Hoyt is a hoot, and we spent a few happy moments commiserating about costuming in historical TV and film.
Having now read the book, it's obvious that she has put in the time doing research on the material and social culture of 1740s England, where the novel is set. All the historical research in the world won't help if the story is clunky or boring, however. I'm pleased to say that in this case the research is coupled with likable, interesting characters, an intriguing setting, and a bit of mystery to solve.
Oh, and there's just enough steaminess to keep a person warm on a cool Fall evening. Maybe enough that at a few points it felt like TMI time, but then I'm happy with "less is more". That said, although there are some HBO-worthy moments of passion, I never felt uncomfortable enough to skim and "get on with the story". Perhaps it was the grounded presentation of the lead characters, warts and all, with attendant touches of humor, that kept me engrossed even in their most private moments. Whatever the reason, I ended up binge reading the 321 pages, winding it up around 0300 and wondering where the time had gone.
This never happens to me with a romance. Well, hardly ever. Not only that, but I'm excited to get my hands on the next one in the series, and not just because it features a former Captain of Dragoons from this novel whom I found just as intriguing as this one's male lead. (clunky sentence penalty)
Anyway: If I chose to I could probably find something to nitpick about, but it would be infinitesimally minor. I think this is worth anybody's time. I'd love to see this as a film, as the setting(s) would lend themselves to a lush cinematic treatment, and the characters are varied and unique. Two thumbs up!
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