A historical romance that is definitely different. Well researched, beautifully, even meticulously crafted, sensual, authentic, believable.
Jillian Stone's debut historical novel grabbed my attention as soon as I first heard about it. The cover is gorgeous, the topic combines Irish terrorists and impressionist painters. No wonder I succumbed.
Both Cassie and Zeno are people of the new era and quite a striking couple. Zeno is an educated, refined gentleman who works as a detective in a special unit of Scotland Yard dealing with terrorists. Cassie is an aristocratic widow, a very talented painter, who just finished her mourning and is determined to pursue her career professionally. Her father is a Royal physician, her mother is a suffragette, a doctor who treats women and lectures them on sexual health, her brother is a mad inventor. The whole family is extraordinary.
However her ex-brother-in-law is suspected in helping the terrorists, so Zeno's first attempt to get involved with Lady St.Cloud carries an ulterior motive to find out if she is involved and get closer to her brother's circles. What grows from their first meeting is a complicated love affair, a surprising union of very similar souls and a brilliant match.
The dialogues and references to the historical period feel very authentic and right, the plot itself is pretty intense and suspenseful with action following Cassie to Paris, with carriage chases and an evening tromp to Eiffel Tower...
However, the main villain is full of cliches, he is just too fiendish, too repulsive, which made me think: surely people are not just black and white? They should have traits that we find likable and their characters should be more complex.
The plot also felt like it was dragging its feet sometimes, especially during bedtime conversations. Other than that, I liked this book and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series which already have two more gorgeous covers.