3 / 5 stars
Read in June 2020
Book #1 in The Isle of Synne series
Published June 30, 2020
When I saw this book is the first in a historical romance series, I immediately requested the ARC with the hope of finding a new series I could continue to follow. Plus, the red-orange hues on the cover are gorgeous!
After being jilted at the altar and therefore facing her third failed engagement, Lenora Hartley retreats to the idyllic Isle of Synne with her dear friend, Margery. Despite the isle’s beauty, it holds memories both fond and haunting for Lenora, who spent much of her youth there visiting Margery’s grandmother, Lady Tesh. When the young women arrive, they find Lady Tesh is already hosting the stoic Peter Ashford, who has returned from Boston to inherit a dukedom. With revenge on his mind, the last thing Peter expects is to fall for Lenora. As his growing feelings make him question the mission he’s been set on fulfilling since he left England as a child, so does Lenora struggle with her affection for Peter as she wrestles with guilt around her past actions and failures.
I loved the opening chapters of this book as Lenora’s heartwarming friendship with Margary is established, a contrast to her tense relationship with her cruel father. I admired Lenora’s resilience and grace as she struggles not only with the shame of three failed engagements, but also with a dark secret she’s never told anyone that she will have to face upon her return to the isle.
Peter, on the other hand, was a lot more difficult to like; his grumpiness went from potentially endearing to completely exasperating. He is stubborn to the point of being pigheaded, insists on vengeance even when it’s clear better options are available, and is unnecessarily rude to our heroine and side characters on multiple occasions. Aside from a couple of scenes here and there, I had a difficult time rooting for Peter and Lenora to end up together. In my opinion, she was too good for him.
Our cast of side characters helped make this book shine and definitely piqued my interest regarding the upcoming books in this series. I grew fond of the tenacious Lady Tesh and her canine companion, Freya, and was excited to learn the next book will be about Peter’s charismatic friend, Mr. Quincy Nesbitt. I’m also hoping sweet Margery will get a book of her own because she deserves a happy ending!
Regarding the conflict, most of it is based on internal struggles – vengeance vs. forgiveness, facing the past vs. running from it – that made the stakes seem pretty low. Many of the issues could have been resolved with better communication between characters. Any additional conflict, from a terrible storm hitting the isle to the arrival of a new suitor for Lenora, always seemed temporary rather than insurmountable.
The setting on the Isle of Synne is absolutely magical, and I enjoyed exploring its picturesque cliffs and serene forests, wondering why the characters would want to live anywhere else. The author also tries to weave a tale about the isle’s past into the story, but unfortunately it falls flat. Clearly meant to parallel Lenora’s and Peter’s relationship, the legend tells the story of a young woman named Synne falling in love with a viking. Like Peter, this viking is a jerk; and like Lenora, Synne forgives him. Lenora may call Peter her “viking” throughout the book, but otherwise the legend of Synne didn’t add much to the story.
Overall I wouldn’t say I loved this book, but I’m definitely intrigued enough by its characters and setting to come back for more. Christina Britton is truly a talented writer, and I can’t wait to see what this series has next!
Thank you to Forever (Grand Central Publishing) via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.