I just spent the last four days trying to get through One Wild Winter’s Eve by Anne Barton, which I started late Saturday night after quickly DNF’ing Dark Heart of Magic by Jennifer Estep (I didn’t read enough of it to really write a review–just know that it wasn’t for me). I first chose this book based on how much I liked the cover. It is just so pretty with all that blue and it definitely gives off a wintery vibe. I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but I just had to read it. Netgalley gave me the chance.
Lady Rose Sherbourne is looking for her mother and the one person who can help her do that is the one man she should not love. Mr. Charles Holland has known Rose for years and was her closest friend during a time in her life that she desperately needed friendship. He knew she was young, titled, and completely unattainable for a mere stableboy and so he left her family’s service, determined to make a life for himself without her. Now, she’s back in his life and he doesn’t know if he can give her up again.
I have to say that this is a great plot that failed in execution. It was by no means bad, but it took me twice as long as it usually does to read it. Hell, I was getting my hair cut on Saturday and I was talking to the women in the salon about how I tend to read 4 books a week. At this rate, I’ll probably only manage two this week.
My biggest issue is that this book is so slow. At one point, I looked at the percentage counter on my Kindle and found that I was only 30% through with the book and I could have sworn that I was twice that far. I sincerely believe that this book could have been shorter and would probably have worked better as a novella, which is not something that I say very often.
I also had a problem believing that the daughter of a Duke would even look twice at an illiterate stablehand, even if she was lonely and depressed when they first met. It was so implausible. Maybe if she was the daughter of a baron and he a solicitor, I could have believed it, but even then that would be a stretch. I get what Rose saw in him, but I doubt that her agreeing to run off with him, leaving her family behind, would ever have happened.
The other thing that bugged me was that in the prologue we learn that Rose has seen something that scarred her and made her become mute, but the event that triggered this is ridiculous. I won’t spoil it, but let’s just say that it involved sex and Rose’s poor, virginal eyes couldn’t handle it. What she saw would disturb anyone, but I just do not think it would have made her mute. I do believe that it would have changed her and made her more puritan (maybe?) and prudish in her own sexual desires. That’s not the case here. Based on the trauma of what she saw, I would have thought that her own desires would have scared her (based on the time period and the stigmas placed on sexual activity outside the marriage bed), and while I’m glad they didn’t, I think she would have wondered if she was wanton because she liked the things that Charles did to her.
There were parts of the book that I did enjoy, one of which was the relationship between Rose and Lady Bonneville, who everyone is apparently afraid of and tends to shy away from out of fear. Rose has decided to become her companion during a trip to Bath (really? The young daughter of a Duke is going to be a companion to an aging Viscountess???) and so they spend a lot of time together for the first half of the book. At first, I thought she was going to be one of those evil, demanding women, who treated anyone in her employ as if they were the dirt on her boots and she definitely was not that. She actually ends up being Rose’s greatest ally, and I really liked that because she needed someone in her corner.
I also liked the relationship between Rose and her siblings, but sadly we did not get much of this as they only show up at about the 90% mark. A lot of Rose’s thoughts involved not wanting to have to choose between her family and Charles and if she’d just spoken to them before things got completely out of hand, she would have seen that she had options other than the one she was determined to go through with no matter how much it would hurt her.
Like I said, this isn’t a bad book, but it was just missing something. I’ve read other books that suffered from the same things this one did, but where those books were still entrancing this one was merely meh.
One Wild Winter’s Eve is currently available for Pre-Order and will be released on October 27th.