Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Jayne Fresina - True Story

Olivia Monday, an impoverished widow, has taken a position as "secretary" to an eccentric, scandalous rake - a divorced man with a brood of eight children and at least two gun-shot wounds. For one year, against the advice of her remaining family members, she agrees to live in his remote Cornish castle and put pen to paper on his behalf.
Despite everything she's heard about him, she's unafraid. Olivia welcomes the distraction this unusual post will provide— as well as the large fee— because the alternative of relying on relatives to put a roof over her head is intolerable.
True Deverell has decided it's time to set the record straight. He means to dictate his memoirs to this little widow who, according to the instructions he sent to his solicitor, should merely be plain and have a neat hand. Those are his only requirements. He doesn't want any distractions, has endured his fill of scandal and intends now to leave the "True Story" on paper so that perhaps, one day, people will forgive his mistakes.
But when Mrs. Olivia Monday arrives on his doorstep in her leaky boots and crumpled bonnet, True realizes that perhaps his story isn't over yet.

Comment: I got interested in this book in 2015 because I saw it on a blog being well recommended. The story has a employer/secretary theme and I tend to enjoy these so I added to my list and even convinced a friend to read it also.
This is a buddy read with Hannah but, as usual, I've managed to finish before she did :P

This is the story of True Deverall, a man who started with nothing and has become a rich and important man. His biggest achievement is, however, his children and he stated having them quite young, which explains him being in his forties and already having grown up children. The relationship he has with them is complicated because True as the reputation of a scoundrel and he does deserve it. True has decided to write his memories, so that one day his children have his side of things and can understand some of his life's decisions. To do this, he asks his man of affairs to find him a secretary, preferably older and plain.
Olivia Monday has been widowed three times and she hasn't got much to her life except memories, a step brother and the need for independence. Of course Olivia knows she needs to be professional but as time goes by she starts to get her new employer and he also seems to want to discover her secrets. But will they have common ground after all?

At the end, this ended up being a good story. It has some not as interesting scenes but overall, I liked spending time reading and thinking about these characters and sometimes that can be the biggest compliment for a book.
The beginning is a bit slow and there are some situations I don't see why they could charming, but as things develop, I got more and more invested in the main couple and in their connection.

I think the best thing about this book is precisely that, the romance. I liked how slow it started and how much they talked and how they shared things even in seemingly unimportant conversations and each little detail brought them closer to common ground. Although True is older than Olivia, she also has some life experiences to help her endure what comes her way. This means their relationship felt quite balanced for me and I could understand and accept their feelings more because of that.

Although the focus in on True and his wild ways, his scandalous past and actions, he is a sweet man and I liked getting to know him better.
However, I really focused my attention on Olivia, I think she is a great heroine, she starts as someone too prim and proper, she has had a difficult time but I appreciate the work she has done and it almost feels like a prize she has earned when she falls in love with someone who loves her back. I think Olivia's characterization was well done.

There's a little mystery vibe in the story and this has propelled some actions to happen concerning Olivia. Some details weren't much to my liking but when everything was explained I liked the solutions and the explanations given.
The secondary characters are ok, I guess. They played their part. I was hoping True's children were less "individualistic" and it felt like their relationship with their father was a huge issue but I wasn't sold on any of it. I especially didn't like True's daughter that much... It seems the following books are focused on the children closer to True somehow but while the next still seems interesting enough for me to want to try it, the others not so much based simply on premises and the personalities I've seen something of in this book.

All things considered, this was a sweet romance, I really liked the romantic scenes between True and Olivia and the incredible promise of good things to come.
This was definitely an enjoyable read despite the not as appreciated elements.
Grade: 8/10

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