Publisher: Pocket Star (June 9, 2014)
Review by: Lindsey
When A Bibliophile’s Reverie received the request to review this novel, I could not pass up the opportunity. An atypical heroin who turns the damsel-in-distress tale on its head? Yes, please! I’m a sucker for tales in which ladies know how to fend for themselves, can hold their own and are just as capable of saving someone as their male counterparts are. Even though romance novels aren’t usually my cup of tea, this one spiked my enthusiasm. My fondness for strong, resourceful, brave women was not disappointed.
The opening of this novel introduces us to an English lady of nobility, that immediately proves to be different from most noble Ladies. She’s unjustly flogged by her tyrannical fiancé, yet her stubbornness, strong will and pride prevent her from bending to his will, screaming out in pain or falling down. Straightaway it’s evident that Lenora is no delicate princess, but a lady to be reckoned with and deserving of our respect. She then further continues to impress by, even in her bruised and wounded state, not only forging a plan to escape her fiancé but also by carrying it out. I’m quite fond of this bold and in your face opening. Catherine LaRoche doesn’t waste time by dragging on Lenora’s suffering and endlessly going on about how horrible her fiancé treats her, but instead has us jump into the story immediately, setting a high pace and revealing Lenora’s background story at very well-chosen points in the novel. Unfortunately, LaRoche doesn’t maintain this high pace throughout the novel. After about two-thirds of the novel, she loses this pace and instead gives us a dragging, kinda dull and annoying story. We all know how it’s going to turn out, as we often do with these types of novels, yet LaRoche opts to unnecessarily prolong this part of the story and to slow down the tempo of her novel to a tedious pace.
While our heroin, Lady Lenora, is very innovative with her knife-throwing skills, perseverance, courage and wits, while still being a true Lady of nobility with her fondness of proper attire and courtly demeanour, her male counterpart ‘Der Wolfram’, isn’t that unusual. He’s of similar noble breeding as Lenora is, therefore of course fitted to be her husband and giving Lenora an incredible amount of luck after being treated so poorly by her fiancé. Additionally, Wolfram is a Free Imperial Knight, making him quite the impressive noble man, at least in title. Wolfram is furthermore, unsurprisingly; extremely strong, romantic, courageous, idealistic and gallant. One trait that does make him more outstanding, considering the time and place of the story, is his feminism and the fact that he not only fights for the rights of the German people but also for gender equality. I have to add the remark here, that considering the type of novel, it isn’t that surprising that the male-lead is so amazing and perfect that he also fights for the rights of women.
In keeping with the character of Wolfram, most of the other components of the novel also stay true to the genre. Through a series of horrible events, Lenora shuns love and becomes very cynical of the idea of two people truly caring for one another. Of course Wolfram helps her get over those unbearable experiences and helps her experience and open her heart to real love and affection. In short, Lenora and Wolfram are the only people capable of truly loving the other in all their glory and ‘weird quirks’. Because of Lenora’s cynicism, the novel never gets too corny in dialogue and combined with other characters’ down-to-earthness, it’s at times even quite funny. Though it’s fair to say that Wolfram’s romantic monologues are at times a bit over the top and dramatic. Of course in this type of novel, you shouldn’t expect significant character development or an elaborate plot. Throughout the novel the characters remain flat. Likewise, the plot is meagre and only serves to bring Wolfram and Lenora together and believably present them with opportunities to save one another. While I myself prefer more profound storylines, I am aware that romance novels typically offer little in this department and therefore it’s not necessarily a deficit for this novel. As can be expected, the novel is also endowed with a fairy-tale, happy ending.
All in all, this novel is an enjoyable easy read, perfect to accompany you on the beach or to curl up with on the sofa on a rainy afternoon. For its genre, it’s a good book that does break some of the stereotypes often present in romance novels. It features a proper romantic hero, a likeable and easy to identify with heroine and an undemanding plot. It balances seriousness with humour and romance quite well and offers what romance novels should offer, namely a testimony that real, or as these novels tend to call it, true love heals all wounds and puts everything right again.