Publisher: Berkley (2011)
Format: Mass Market Paperback | 355 pages
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Description (GR): "Being the most sought-after bachelor in London can be trying. Jason Cummings, Duke of Rayne, should know. But when he winds up an unwilling escort to the headstrong Winnifred Crane on a trip across Europe, he realizes he'll do anything to keep this independent beauty safe-even if it means marrying her."This is the first historical romance I've read by Kate Noble and I must say it was a good read, overall.
Actually this is more historical fiction than your typical steamy romance set in some historical period. It took me very much by surprise. The premise is a little wild and unbelievable, though: an independent woman in early 19th-century wants to join an all-male Historical Society so she makes a bet with the director: if she can authenticate a painting, she is in; if she fails, she is out. Improbable events abound and she is suddenly on a ship with an English Duke who decides she is too naive to travel alone.
As I said, the premise is a bit out-there. But the entire quest to find the paintings origins and true author is very compelling stuff and it's clear Kate Noble researched 19th century Germany (although it wasn't really Germany in the 1820's it's a creative liberty one can accept. It really is mainly an adventure book with our two heroes facing difficulties and problems and being chased by rivals.
Consequently I never felt that they had much of a connection, romantically. There isn't that spark and chemistry most protagonists have in historical romances since the focus was obviously the quest. The romance part was actually lacking. I wasn't very convinced with the development of the romance which was odd because it was a lot more gradual than in most other historical romances where it is generally lust at first sight. What was missing was definitely the chemistry.
Still I liked this book. The historical component was well done, although the author slipped a few times and had her characters use expressions that are very much American and a bit more modern than the 19th century, and the characters were refreshing - well, Jason, the Duke was refreshingly not just an alpha male and didn't really fall into the general stereotypes (reformed rake, etc) for this kind of book, but Winnifred was a bit annoying at times, although I loved her independent character and her love of books, not to mention her desire to be something more than it was expected of women in her time. I also thought the author tackled the romance in an innovative way (or realistic, if you want to be technical - like I said, it was gradual and the protagonists doubted their feelings and had problems with them). All that was missing... was the chemistry.