I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Amethyst Goldsmith makes dazzling jewelry, but her future isn’t nearly as bright as the pieces she creates. Though custom dictates she wed her father’s apprentice, her heart rebels against the match. In mere days Amy will be condemned to a stifling, loveless marriage, and she sees no way out—until the devastating fire of 1666 sweeps through London, and tragedy lands her in the arms of a dashing nobleman who knows a diamond in the rough when he sees it…
Colin Chase, the Earl of Greystone, has his future all figured out. He’s restoring his crumbling castle and estate to its former glory, and the key to its completion is his rich bride-to-be. But the Great Fire lays waste to his plans, saddling him with trouble—in the form of a lowly shopkeeper’s daughter with whom he’s most inconveniently falling in love... (source)
I chose this as my beach read last week. I ended up not getting much reading done at the beach, though, so I only just finished it today! I picked it because it was the first unread book on my Kindle, and I'm trying to slowly get through all the books that I downloaded on it for free from Amazon. I had fairly low expectations for this one, and was pleasantly surprised by liking it more than I had expected.
I'll start with what I didn't like about this book. It definitely had both good and bad qualities, and I'd rather get the bad out of the way first so I can end on a good note. First, I noticed several spelling/grammatical errors as I was reading this. For example, "awkward" was spelled "akward" at one spot, and the word "dais" was repeatedly spelled "dias." The fact that this particular mistake occurred multiple times actually makes me wonder if this wasn't just a typo that went unobserved by the editor, but, rather, that the author simply doesn't know how to spell the word correctly... which would be pretty embarrassing for her, if that's the case. This is a book I got for free on Amazon, which would ordinarily make me wonder if the author were self-publishing, but she seems to be fairly established, which means there really is no excuse for mistakes like this.
On a similar note, the characters' speech too frequently jumped from attempts at historically accurate phrasing and modern jargon. The result was that the attempts at accuracy came across as forced and kind of cliche, and then the anachronistic speech - such as comparing a character's speed to that of a rocket - stood out even more than it ordinarily would. I really think that Ms. Royal should look into finding a better editor, as these errors could easily be ironed out by someone who's more thorough.
Also, while I generally liked the characters, I was at times irked by their incredible stupidity. The heroine, Amethyst "Amy" Goldsmith (by the way, could there be a cheesier name for a female jeweler? I think not) is a virgin at the beginning of the book and Royal decided to emphasize this by making her ridiculously naive. It also takes her way, way too long to reach fairly obvious conclusions,(show spoiler)
. Colin, too, is a bit slow at times, though not quite as bad as Amy is, and between the two of them, I found myself rolling my eyes pretty frequently. Some aspects of his personality, such as his love for pranks, also feel forced, rather than adding depth to his character.
All that aside, I did actually like this book. Amy and Colin are well-suited for each other and I enjoyed reading about how their relationship grows. I loved that they were surrounded by interesting supporting characters, though I would've liked to see more of some of them, especially Kendra.
I also greatly appreciated that, although this is a romance novel, there is more to the plot than romance. Amy and Colin's story goes beyond just seeing them get together; we actually get a pretty well fleshed out view of their life together. This is a refreshing shift from the "just get them together" approach that many romance novelists choose to follow. Additionally, Royal put a good bit of effort into showcasing the time period of this story. I've noticed that many historical romance authors throw their characters into a setting and then basically ignore what might be going on politically, focusing entirely on the romance between the characters. Royal actually integrates history into her story and I thought that this was fairly well done.
Overall, while I don't think that I like this book enough to re-read it, I did enjoy it and I do think that I'll be continuing the series, if only because I downloaded the rest of it for free as well. I'm pretty happy with how this story unfolded. It definitely had its flaws, but as far as romances go, I'd say this is a pretty good one!
Review cross-posted on Amazon, Booklikes, and Tumblr.