Publisher: Allison & Busby
Release Date: November 18th, 2021
Rating: 3/5 Stars
I received this book from publisher Allison & Busby via NetGalley – views remain my own.
I really, really wanted to like this more than I did. I’ve been picking up more and more Romance recently, and largely really enjoying them. I just love a book that gives you those warm feels and a desperate desire for a HEA between the characters.
This book didn’t quite reach that point for me.
Captain William Hawksmoor inherits Kingscastle after the deaths of his cousin and uncle. As part of the Royal Navy, he takes to the role as Marquis of Athelney as if he were commanding a ship, even with the condition he is to marry within a year of the inheritance, put in the will in an attempt to force his unruly cousin to settle down. But William finds himself contending with his aunt, Lady Willoughby Hawksmoor, determined her daughter will be his wife, and desperately trying to keep William away from Eleanor Burgess, her companion. Surrounded by a cast of characters, including William’s long-suffering cousin, the local vicar and his sister, and an old navy friend, the setup for the romance and William adapting to his role made me keen to check this out.
The book jumped around a lot, shifting from one character’s POV to another so much it became hard to keep track. It also meant a lot of the characterisation was disjointed, and there were moments when it felt like we were reading things from one character’s POV only to realise we’re actually in another’s. There was also very little interaction between the main couple, which meant their romance felt a bit flimsy, especially in contrast to the secondary couple, who had some excellent moments together. Eleanor is portrayed as an intelligent woman, undeserving of the treatment she gets from her employer, and yet despite knowing – quite blatantly – that said employer is trying to keep her and William apart, she still takes Lady Hawksmoor’s word for any situation involving him?
The ‘misunderstandings’ between the pair err on the side of forced, and pretty much all stem from the same source, and it’s really difficult to understand why any of the characters even believe anything Lady Hawksmoor says. As a villain, too, she’s extremely over the top, completely without any real nuance, and she’s just evil and nasty for the sake of being evil and nasty.
Like I said, the secondary characters were much more entertaining to read, and there were some really, truly tender moments between them. William comes across as way too ‘nice’ most of the time, almost too good, and again, he lacks nuance. The only time he seems not to be is when dealing with echoes of his cousin’s past, the people who approach him regarding this, in which case he is eager to judge and shame, and these scenes themselves don’t really have much of an impact on the overall plot.
This book would have benefited from a more consistent structure with the characters, and a bit more time spent within their heads. Something I normally love about Romances is how deeply you can come to know the characters, but that’s something that, unfortunately, is not achieved as well as it could be in Kingscastle.