The Worthington Wife by Sharon Page
Book 2 in the Roaring Twenties Series
ARC, e-book, 442 pages
December 27, 2016
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Received from Publisher for Review
Lady Julia Hazelton is the most dazzling among 1920s England's bright, young things. But rather than choosing the thrill of wanton adventure like so many of her contemporaries, Julia shocks society with her bold business aspirations. Determined to usher the cursed Worthington estate into a prosperous, modern new era, and thus preserve her beloved late fiancé's legacy, the willful Julia tackles her wildest, most unexpected adventure in Cal Carstairs, the reluctant new Earl of Worthington.
The unconventional American artist threatens everything Julia seeks to protect while stirring desires she thought had died in the war. For reasons of his own, Cal has designed the ultimate revenge. Rather than see the estate prosper, he intends to destroy it. But their impulsive marriage—one that secures Julia's plans as well as Cal's secrets—proves that passion is ambition's greatest rival. Unless Cal ends his quest to satisfy his darkest vendetta, he stands to ruin his Worthington wife and all her glittering dreams.
The Worthington Wife was a lot of things; it is part romance novel, part mystery, and part straight historical, and it did most of that successfully.
The novel evokes the time following WWI and how the life on the great estates in England were struggling against the modernization of the coming world. We see a little bit of the Roaring Twenties with regards to unsavory characters and some of the jazz/dance clubs, but it doesn’t take front stage here. The novel explores some of the effects of the war on those who were on the field, both men and women, and how their experiences effected them at home and how their service was perceived upon returning home. I felt that there was more historical depth here than in many romance novels and I appreciated that.
The romance was more subtle through about two-thirds of the novel and then ratchets it up into the world of a more traditional historical romance after that complete with somewhat detailed bedroom scenes. I felt the scenes were tasteful and well built into the narrative and made a lot of sense to the characters as they had been established thus far. I believed the romance here.
The mystery part I can’t get much into without giving a lot away, but suffice to say it comes and goes throughout the novel and you don’t realize early on that it is really anything important, but it becomes more so as time goes on. I didn’t figure it out right away, but my suspicions started to raise themselves about three-quarters through and I was ultimately right. It played a lot into the motivations of the characters and drove some of their decisions throughout.
The author did a great job creating these characters. I loved Julia and Cal, they were each interesting on their own, but brought out the best and worst in each other when together. They could both be infuriating, but coming from a good place, even if they expected different outcomes. Most of the peripheral characters were well fleshed out, I think the exception would have to be Cal’s female cousins (beyond Diana). They all live with him, but I can’t remember the other two girl’s names or know anything about them.
There was one thing that bothered me throughout my experience reading this book, and that was the interaction between my expectations based on the book blurb and the reality of the book. I don’t particularly think that this blurb was as effective as it should have been. Typically, I expect that what is revealed in the blurb is not a main plot point and that the events discussed will occur relatively early in the novel – this is meant to pull you in to the plot, not give it away. Based on this idea, I expected this “impulsive marriage” to occur relatively early and then we would watch as events played out based on their not well thought out marriage. I kept waiting and waiting for the marriage and even checked back to make sure I had not made up the fact that there would even be a marriage! It doesn’t happen until a couple chapters before the end, which frustrated me as it felt like I was sold something a little different than I was told. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the story and was compelled to pick it up to read at times that I probably should have been doing other things, but I just felt I was kept waiting too long.
When I started reading The Worthington Wife I didn’t know that it was the second book in a series, however right away I knew I was missing something. It wasn’t that I felt I didn’t have enough information to understand what was going on, but it was instead the opposite. I feel like the author almost tried to give too much information, but in a way that was too obvious and lacking in fluidity. In that first chapter I didn’t feel that I needed to know all about the American Duchess, the sister-in-law to the heroine of The Worthington Wife. It could have been more appropriately placed in a later chapter when Zoe was actually important to the story. Having not read the first book (although I do have it), I’m not sure what we came to know of Julia in that book, but I felt like I was able to get to know her just fine in The Worthington Wife, as well as the other characters. That first chapter just felt very clunky to me.
I will definitely be going back to read the first book as well as any subsequent ones, this could have just used a little clean up.
Reviews of this book by other bloggers:
Also by Sharon Page:
Sharon Page has also written erotic historical romance novels and paranormal novels of which you can find the complete list here.
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