Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rose Lerner - A Lily Among Thorns

Lady Serena Ravenshaw is one of London’s most prosperous women, but she’s never forgotten the misery that set her on the path to success. Nor has she forgotten the drunken young gentleman who gave her the means to start her long, tortuous climb out of the gutter.
When he knocks on the door of the Ravenshaw Arms to ask her help in retrieving a stolen family heirloom, she readily agrees to help, and to let him stay rent-free. After all, Serena prefers debts to fall in her favor.
Still grieving the death of his twin brother, Solomon Hathaway just wanted to be left alone in his dye-making shop—until his highborn uncle sends him to the infamous Lady Serena to scour London’s underworld for the missing bauble.
He’s shocked to discover she’s the same bedraggled waif to whom he once gave his entire quarterly allowance. Yet as they delicately tread common ground, they must negotiate a treacherous world of crime, espionage and betrayal before they can learn to trust—and love—again.

Comment: I got this book several months ago, if not more than 2 years, and I thought the blurb was intriguing, especially because the heroine seemed to have overcome obstacles in her past and I was curious about the path to happiness she should embark upon. This is my second book by the author.

In this story we meet Serena Ravenshaw, a woman who owns her own business but she didn't always succeed in life and is a former prostitute. Serena changed her ways when a stranger offered her all his money and she was able to leave her life as a prostitute always telling herself she would repay the man who made it possible. 
Solomon Hathaway is a man with a mission, he wants to recover some family earrings so his sister can finally marry and that leads him to Serena's establishment for she is known for her ability to help others find things. 
Although they recognize one another, they pretend they don't until the game is up. Can these two put aside old thoughts and expectations and focus on the now?

I liked this book overall. Most time I had a good time reading but to be really honest, the way things went didn't strike me as the most interesting plot I could have.
The author has talent and a voice I don't mind spending time following but with such a rich content on the character's relationship alone, the idea of having to go through so many pages of plot - and not that appealing at that - confused me and made me wish things were different.

For me, this book is worth it by the romance. The characters aren't exactly opposites attract but close to it and it was fun to see them go through the motions. What captivated me the most was how Serena, with such a past - of her own choice - could still feel the attraction to a man so different from everyone else, not only because he helped her once but for his quirky but quiet personality as well.
I wish the plot wouldn't have gotten on the way because I think the romance focused on the developing feelings and relationship alone would have been even stronger.
The ways things are, we spent too much time looking at the plot moves, including the resurfacing of some characters that, despite how intriguing they are, didn't made me feel eager to keep reading.

The plot started simple, the connection between Solomon and Serena, their life stories, all was well, then the spying sub plot came out, with it more subjects that I don't dislike but I still feel they stole too much attention from what could have been such an amazingly touching story. The way things ended, it was only a good story and I miss the lack of depth simmering between the lines.

Serena and Solomon are a good couple, I enjoyed seeing them strengthening their previous and sudden bond and how getting to know one another made them better people. I still think Serena could have been more romantic  - often some things she said or did felt more mechanic than heartfelt - and that would make the whole romance part be better. Solomon was more sensitive, not as naive as he first appears, but he does learn a lot through the story.
I liked how the author made them both deal with family members and to process knowledge. I know things can't or shouldn't be always bright and happy but the little glimpses of happiness in this book weren't enough, in my opinion. Yes, we have a HEA at the end but I hoped to have have seen more scenes with them happy, both during the plot development and at the end.
I really feel the focus wasn't in the right details or the ones that could have turned this into something amazing.

It was clever of the author to create unique characters, not the usual lot we see in historical romances, but a little less bleak and doubt and more positivism would have been a nice touch.
Also in need of improvement is the character's reactions to certain things. They're very clever and special but more determination would have solved things quicker and they would have been freed to consider more important things and not let things drag. 

All in all, it was a good effort, and interesting story but I kind of wished for more, especially in terms of character development and actions.
Grade: 7/10

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