Thursday, January 21, 2021

Joanna Chambers - A Gathering Storm

In Porthkennack, Ward meets Nicholas Hearn, land steward to the Roscarrock family. Ward becomes convinced that Nick, whose Romany mother was reportedly clairvoyant, is the perfect man to assist with his work. But Nick—who has reason to distrust the whims of wealthy men—is loath to agree. Until Fate steps in to lend a hand.
Despite Nick’s misgivings, he discovers that Ward is not the high-handed aristocrat he first thought. And when passion ignites between them, Nick learns there’s much more to love than the rushed, clandestine encounters he’s used to. Nevertheless, Nick’s sure that wealthy, educated Ward will never see him as an equal.
A storm is gathering, but with Nick’s self-doubts and Ward’s growing obsession, the fragile bond between the two men may not be strong enough to withstand it.

Comment: I have enjoyed reading books by this author. In fact, all the books I've read by the author so far have been good reads for me. Therefore, I had good expectations about this one as well.

In this book, part of the ongoing Porthkennack series, - where several authors contribute, whether for installments in historical settings or contemporary - we have the story of sir Edward "Ward" Fitzwilliam and Nick Hearn. 

Ward is a scientist who lost his twin brother and a weird moment during a storm at sea made him hear a message as soon as his twin died and his logical mind makes him believe if he can recreate the circumstances, he might be able to communicate with him again. To makes things easier, he buys a property near the ocean and tries to interview people nearby who might have lost someone too, and that is how he meets Nick, the steward of the neighboring property to his. Nick is reserved and with good reason, for his past has made him a loner. However, the more they spend together, the more they learn little things about one another that fascinate each man. But could it be possible to reach for happiness?

As predicted, this turned out to be a good story. There were several elements I liked reading about and which made the book feel easy to be interested in. Both main characters had something about them that gave them a certain appeal and I was interesting in seeing how their relationship progressed.

Some people might say this is rather slow and, in part, it may be so, but I don't think it's such a difference in the long term. I think this tactic makes the reader be able to connect more easily with the characters, we have more time to understand them, to figure out why they act/behave the easy thy do and also it makes their development stronger. However, the slow pace at times makes things feel more like they are becoming friends instead of soulmates. 

I mean, of course they can be friends but if there's one element I feel is missing would be that punch in the gut which would be so obvious, so necessary no doubt would exist on what they mean for one another. I think sexual tension could have been done better and this would be more inherent to the plot. Perhaps another perspective is the fact the two men can't spend that much time together so easily in an historical setting without other kind of reason except the one they have. Some other historical novels have managed to accomplish this better, this author's included.

The atmosphere was well done, though. I could envision the scenery described, the weather affecting the character's movements and difficulties. I think the writing style is still as captivating as I remember from other books and the settings worked well for me too. What I struggled a little with was how invested I felt in the main characters' issues. I suppose I can say I wanted more scenes fro Nick's POV because he felt the most complex protagonist. His background, the way he felt about his mother, about how others accepted him or not because of his Roma side...he seemed to be more complex and fascinating, reluctant but still willing to do something for others, such as helping Ward.

Ward was probably intended as the "nerd" of the time, someone too focused on hos own knowledge and interests, he seemed to act a bit aloof in the sense he didn't pay much attention to other things except how work unless he had someone calling his attention. I ca understand this "opposites attract" idea and in some moments, it worked, but overall, their differences just seemed to be too obvious. Closer to the end, things progress - both the romance and the plot - to a certain peak and I must say I wasn't too fond on how it happened. Then comes the drama and the finale and that improved my overall opinion but I still think there could be better planning for some details of this story.

I consider this to be a good historical writer and what I've read so far has been positive but even though this book wasn't bad, I believe it could have gone a bit further in its emotional content.

Grade: 7/10

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