I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Samantha has always had it rough growing up in America's Wild West but when the man she married to escape a worse fate turns out to be in an outlaw gang with his brothers, she realizes she may have made a mistake. When she makes a fatal decision to save another life, she gets the opportunity to start fresh in a new country.
Gavin has wanted nothing more than to separate himself from his brutish dead father's name and buying the Ross land gives him that chance. When Alison Ross finally comes back to Scotland from America, he makes it his mission to woo her land from her.
Samantha and Gavin have tough pasts but also deep feelings developing, their held secrets and lies will have to be overcome if they're to survive.
"I don't think I believe in villains. Heroes either. Just people. People with agendas and the things they're willing to do to get what they want."
Fifth in the Victorian Rebels series, Gavin Thorne is the middle brother of villainous Hamish MacKenzie's sons. It's possible to pick this book up without reading the others in the series as the author does a pretty good job of explaining the animosity between him and his brother Liam (hero from #3 The Highlander) and Samantha is a new character not previous mentioned in the other books. Even knowing the background between the two brothers, Gavin's arguing with his brother came off a bit immature as it seemed an adult in his late thirties should have figured out that the blame towards his brother was a bit misplaced. The relationship between Gavin and Liam fell into the pitfall of not feeling fleshed out enough, along with other relationships in the book.
She was little better than a banshee with a sidearm.
While Gavin had a tendency to come off a bit immature, his bed hopping and general rogue actions are supposed to be cover for his pain, Samantha was our hard as nails, mouth like a sailor, and stubborn heroine. There is seriously a lot of cursing in this story and most of it done by Samantha. This being a historical, I have to say, it threw me a bit. Obviously, women cursed in the 1800s but the frequency with which Samantha threw out the f word and ease of saying sh*t, couldn't help but give it an awkward modern feel; a personal dislike. I don't want to get into spoilers because this is an ARC review, but the secrets and lies Samantha holds until very close to the end of the story, made it very hard for me to ever warm up to her. In fact, the very bottom heavy feel of this book, was one of the biggest problems I had with it.
"I'm not asking ye to like me, lass, only to marry me."
If you've read the other books in the series, you'll know the author's writing can veer towards almost purple prose. The wordiness, flowery, and waxing poetic descriptive writing needed to be edited down; it kept the story from furthering along while making it drag. It wasn't until around the 70% mark that I felt the author started to get down to business of building a relationship between our hero and heroine; previously felt completely based on lust. The last 30% was full of reasons why I'm a big fan of this author, the hero and heroine engage in conversations that were witty, funny, and moving while all the secondary characters and side plot lines were coming together to create an intriguing and interesting story. Unfortunately, with some pretty heavy secrets not getting revealed until the 90% point, there just wasn't enough time to resolve and build a believable and emotionally satisfying romantic relationship for me. There was a slight secondary romance between the hero's mother and pseudo-father figure that I felt had more emotion and romance than the main couple.
With a heroine that holds onto her secrets for far too long and a hero whose emotions felt based on lust, I was disappointed in the romance. The majority of the story focused on needless over descriptive dreamy writing while ignoring to the very end the building blocks of emotion. I have a feeling the next two heroes are introduced here, Gavin's friend Callum seems to have quite the backstory with the real Alison Ross and our secretive pirate The Rook mentioned in previous books makes an upfront appearance here. The author has created a dark and intriguing world for this series, I'm going to treat this installment as a one off and be back for the next.
"Who knew being married was such fun," he panted, pressing a kiss to her temple and swatting her backside simultaneously.
She pulled back to look at him, one of her rare, reluctant smiles tugging at the corner of her kiss-reddened mouth. "You probably should have done it years ago."
"Nay, lass," he said suddenly feeling very serious. "Then it wouldna have been ye."