Friday, July 13, 2012
The Gamekeeper's Lady by Ann Lethbridge (3.5 stars, historical)
Full Description: Amazon
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Thoughts After Reading:
I equate a rating of three and half stars to an "average read", a book that was neither overwhelming enjoyable nor overwhelmingly disappointing. And that's pretty much how I felt about Ann Lethbridge's The Gamekeeper's Lady. On one hand, the story managed to keep my attention throughout and had a decent HEA. On the other hand, there was quite a bit of the novel to be dissatisfied about.
Both the hero and heroine have troubled family life. The hero is the second son of a duke, and - three years before the book begins - he was a womanizer of the first degree. His father disowns him in a rage when he believes the hero caused great dishonor to their family. Ever since he has been working as a commoner, vowing to repay his debts. Meanwhile, the heroine's difficulties stems from her mother's actions. Her mother was rebellious at the age of eighteen, and was three months pregnant when her father had her marry an older man. It is widely believed that her biological father was of common birth. The heroine grew up with her cold uncle after her mother died, and everyone in the household believes her to be the spawn of Satan for being born to a "loose" mother and a common father, an image that is reinforced in their minds by her being left-handed. The heroine has grown up with a stutter as a result of this oppression, and has plans to support herself with her skill of painting. The hero gets a job as an assistant gamekeeper on the heroine's uncle's estate. He tries to avoid the heroine, both to ensure he doesn't get fired and because he wants to resist the charms of an innocent lady - after all, he really doesn't have much to offer. He has a had time stopping their attraction to each other, however, as he comes to enjoy the heroine's presence.
Sounds good, right? The romance was pretty good, towards the first part of the novel. But by the time I finished the book, I found it to be disappointing overall. For one thing, I felt the couple jumped into bed together way too early. I get that the heroine starts out with no real marriage prospects, plans on running away anyway, and would like to experience passion, but it sets the relationship up to seem primarily physical as things progress. On a similar note, the positive aspects I found of the novel - the engaging storyline and HEA - came at further cost to the romance. The author uses small, silly misunderstandings and angst to keep the protagonists apart for a huge chunk in the middle of the novel, leading to hurt feelings and unhappiness. It makes the reader want to keep reading, but I became rather weary of the angst before long. The happy ever after was nice when the hero gets his act together at the final pages of the book, but the author still manages to amp up the angst right before that. Things also seemed to be wrapped up almost too neatly at the end, such as the hero's over-the-top speech at the end. There was just too many elements of the story that detracted from the enjoyment and plausibility of the romantic relationship between the hero and heroine.
In my mind, Ann Lethbridge's The Gamekeeper's Lady was not a bad read... but it is a book I probably won't end up reading again. The storyline did keep me interested, but the disappointing elements of the romance subplot keep The Gamekeeper's Lady from graduating above the level of "average."