Two "spares"--one a second son who inherits and an impoverished woman who is included in a houseparty in order to round out the numbers of women--are drawn to each other in this mixture of historical romance and believable ghost story. Jewel draws readers right into the time and place through wonderful descriptions.
wolfie0516 reviewed The Spare (Leisure Historical Romance) on
Helpful Score: 2
I enjoyed the book. As one reveiwer (and the book itself) states, Sebastian is a cold and hard man, but he is a war hero who has faced death and atrocities. He's had to kill people, cruelly interrogate them to get info, witness his comrades being wounded and dying, as well as being critically wounded himself. To deal with this, he's had to distance himself from his feelings. The issue of his being wounded and suffering a slow recovery actually provided a common ground for him and Olivia. Olivia also faced death when she was attacked and shot in the same incident that killed Sebastian's brother and sister-in-law. They were more aware of and sensitive to each other's pain in a way that others were not, as well as dealing with the limitations they faced with their recoveries, which didn't come quickly enough for either one. The "ghostly" aspect also created a common bond for them. They were the only ones to keep seeing the Black Earl's ghost, and at these times were when strange events would take place for the two of them with each other. Their relationship sort of paralleled the one the Earl had with his lady wife, except with a redeeming quality. The Black Earl was cruel, and died without ever becoming a more decent human being or a better husband to his wife, whom he imprisoned in his dungeon and left for months at a time while he sought to fight more battles and make war. Sebastian faces these same issues - cruelty, plans to continue fighting in the war, leaving his wife and castle as soon as he gets married, etc. He even accidentally locks Olivia into the same dungeon cell that the Black Earl used for his wife. The Earl's ghost appears repentant and wants to help them get together and live in a way that is opposite to the way he chose.
The only part that seemed confusing to me was that even though they start in an adversarial manner, they develop a friendship along the way. The confusing part is that although I become convinced that they accept they have a mutual attraction and develop respect and friendship for one another, they and everyone else keep saying that they don't like each other. That made me question what was really going on with them. How can he call her "my heart" and expect us to believe he still dislikes her. It is also sometimes hard to differentiate what "really" takes place between them versus what happens to them in their "dream states" or "ghost-influenced" states.
Overall, I thought it was a great book and liked to see how he softened up and came to value and desire a home and family rather than running away to the sea and needing to constantly face danger.
I liked this book, but some of it was confusing and I didn't understand why it was included in the story.
Sebastian was an interesting but frustrating character. I didn't understand why he was wounded in the story. It added nothing to the storyline except to make him wait to investigate until he was better, which (shockingly) aligns precisely with Olivia's visit. He was a rather cold, arrogant fellow. It took me a while to warm up to him. I also thought his turn around from standoffish to thinking nauseatingly sweet thoughts about Olivia was very sudden.
I didn't understand why Olivia felt that she had to play the nitwit for everyone. It seemed odd and I didn't see the point of it. I liked that she was willing to help Sebastian find out what happened and insisted on him trying to make her remember. I didn't understand why Sebastian didn't tell Olivia what he discovered about her missing days right away. I thought that was very wrong of him. Even if he didn't want her to be angry and embarrassed at him because he was the messenger he still should have sucked it up and told her.
Despite the problems I had with this book I still enjoyed it. I read it quickly and was entertained by it. I think that Carolyn Jewel has a skill with words and atmosphere. She succeeded very well in creating a very gothic setting. I did feel that large chunks of the story were skipped though. I would move to a new chapter and it felt like I missed something. I had to reread the end of the chapter and make sure I hadn't before I came to the conclusion that Jewel just has an abrupt way of transitioning at times.
Be aware that there is a paranormal aspect with a ghost. I wasn't expecting it and didn't really enjoy it, but others might.
This was a disappointment to me after really loving Jewel's book, "Indiscreet". The plot was a hot mess. It was all very gothic with the ghost and the castle, and the hero being cruel and mistrustful. I couldn't figure out how he went from wanting to interrogate the heroine about his brother's death, to them suddenly having a romantic relationship. It seemed like for most of the book he was trying to push her off on his friend James to marry. There was a lot of confusion between dream sequences and reality, and I'm still not sure what scenes actually happened and I didn't care enough to reread and figure it out.