How could you not like the heroine? She was a wonderful character, and so very easy to relate to, it was as if I was her and experiencing everything. The hero was a great male lead, wonderful, real, genuine, passionate, troubled, and the scenes of these two are written in the most lovely way. This was my first book by Julianne Maclean, and it will NOT be my last. Truly inspiring story.
This was a second time read for me, in order to decide if I had gotten it right the first time and it really was a keeper. MacLean, IMO is mostly mid-range, so this was the only MacLean book on my keeper shelf, and I've read a few. She's not a bad writer, but she's not all that great either, and nothing else that I've read by her quite matches up to this one.
What I like about this book...
1st, it's a Victorian, which I always prefer over a regency these days, and I like the unique setting. I think this is the first thing I've come across that's set in the Isle of Wight and the yacht racing culture of the period. The setting has a nicely realistic feel to it as do her characters & dialogue. Secondly, there's the interaction between the H&H. Very candid and mature, which is a nice change of pace from the usual big misunderstandings. They have them, but seem to have figured out that a little communication goes a long way, and don't mind talking:P I also like the plain-ish widow who blossoms under the attentions of a gorgeous man scenario when it's done credibly, which I think this was. Martin (hero) has had kind of a thing for Evelyn (heroine) since they were children, and doesn't seem to ever see her in quite the same way that others do, and this was very appealing. Lastly, I like it that he recognizes his conflicts and isn't stupidly blind about what makes him behave the way he does. Does it stop him from behaving that way? No, but he knows he's a pinhead for it:P
What I don't like about this book...
The love scenes, IMHO, are a trainwreck, for the most part. The prose is somewhat stilted, and some of the pillow talk was a tad cringeworthy. I don't like how long it takes for him to get his act together, and some parts of that particular soul search got a little melodramatic. The tragedy in his past didn't ring 100% true for me either. And yet all of that said, I'd still recommend this particular book to anyone looking for a good MacLean. I think the positives outweigh the negatives effectively enough to represent her well as a writer. Judging by a few others that I've read, possibly better than she deserves. It doesn't stand up as well as I had hoped on a re-read though, & I'm not keeping it. It's definitely memorable, but not quite keeper class. I stick by my original 4 star rating.
Sensuality Rating: R