I've heard so many good things about this author that I really, really wanted to love this book. But I didn't.
The overall concept was interesting (more funny than interesting), albeit improbable. However, as this is a work of fiction I was prepared to go along with it and have some fun. A 'dumb' hero is pretty original, or at least I've never read about one of those.
The thing is, the author didn't pull it off. The entire plot, the characters, the whole book were a little... off mark.
The first thing that annoyed me was the fact that the author decided to explain right at the beginning that Lord Vere wasn't actually dumb, he just pretended he was. Now, this is probably more a matter of personal taste, but I'd have preferred if, as the story unfolded we, the readers, discovered this fact(let's say, at the same time as Lady Vere). It would have made the story all the more interesting to read, in my opinion.
Second, I must confess I felt a complete lack of chemistry between the main characters. A lot of historical romances suffer this flaw, so it's not like it's unheard of, but as romance is all about sparks flying between the protagonists, I am always disappointed when the romance feels flat. Honestly to the end of the book I didn't feel any connection between Vere and Elissande and was puzzled as to how they suddenly decided they were in love.
Third, and this one is related to the second one, Vere was a very unlikable character. He spent most of the book not liking our heroine because she had deceived him when he had been deceiving everyone for years. I think the realization that he in fact hated his own deceitful ways came way too late in the book.
And these were my main problems with this book. Perhaps I had very high expectations because of all the raving reviews and recommendations, but I felt the book didn't deliver. The love story and the characters felt flat and it was not even very sensual either... the scenes of intimacy were not very well written and couldn't convey the desire that Vere supposedly felt for Elissande.
In this book's defence I will say that not all of it was bad. The author has a good writing style and a good sense of the period. Also, the non-romantic part of the plot (the mystery storyline) was pretty well crafted.