TW: mega-butt ton of violence against women.
Ever wonder what romance genre would be like if George R.R. Martin wrote in that genre?
Wonder no more. GRRM writes Regency romance under the name of Julie Johnstone. Okay, not really, but damn it sure felt like it at times. (I only know of GRRM's work through quarter-watching seasons 1-3 of GoT with hubby).
First of all, this is a long book. So many pointless words and scenes and whole chapters. And so many unnecessary side characters, even with the whole first book in a series thing. This author needs an editor to sit her down and just start cutting at least half the book.
Second, what an idiot of heroine (Gillian). Impulsive, stupid woman; good thing the hero (Alex) was always around to help her get out of one jam after another after another....I just couldn't stand her.
Third, unnecessary side characters dying. The first quarter of the book had the following: Gillian's mother died 11 years ago, Alex's older brother (and heir to the dukedom) died five years ago - either one of those dead characters were brought up so damn much in the story you would think they were alive and in the ball room with the couple. Alex's father - not so slowly drinking himself to death. Lady Staunton's husband - knocking on heaven's door, but still mobile and upright on his own accord. Villain's father - died right after the scene where the reader meets him. Alex's sister dies after trying to abort her pregnancy by villain. Died, dying, and death, death, death.
Fourth - gratuitous use of violence against women by villain (Harry) and to a large extent emotional abuse of Gillian by her father to punish her and her mother. Seriously, the villain beat up: a wench from a nearby pub who was also raped and pregnant by him (off page), Alex's sister, his mistress Caprice (one of the unnecessary characters), Caprice's madam, and Gillian. Not to mention, he beat up one butler and came close to beating up another.
The heroine's father was a raging piece of work - emotionally abusing Gillian because her mother slept around on him and Gillian "looked so much like her." Turns out Gillian isn't even his. Yet Gillian is grateful that he did not turn her out in the street and declare her illegitimate after her mother's death. The major plot line is that the father is being blackmailed and part of that blackmail is to marry Gillian off to villain. And he has no qualms about that at all throughout the book. Because she isn't his "real" daughter.
Fifth - language and actions that do not reflect a single social more from the Regency period. An Englishman in the early 1800s is not going to call his lady "peach" or "doll". Seriously!!!! Also, someone get this heroine a freaking chaperone already.
Overall, the worst book in the box set by far. I will not be reading anymore from this author. 1 star.