Received from publisher via NetGalley for an honest review
"In the light of the lanterns held up by the stable hands, the glossy hide of the great, black horse reflected by fire." This was the first sentence and what followed was a just as lushly, rolling gentle written read.
Lord Somerton's Heir is a male Cinderella story with a touch of mystery. Sebastian is a soldier who fought and was injured in Waterloo. While suffering from a bullet wound and fever he is visited by a woman calling herself the Dowager Lady Somerton and stating he is the new Lord Somerton. While at first it seems like a stroke of good fortune, Sebastian soon discovers a mountain of debt, hanger on cousins, and a murder mystery are also part of the inheritance.
Isabel, Dowager Lady Somerton, is the heroine of the story and I found her to be the more stronger written character of the two. She appears cold and rigid at first but as the story goes on it is revealed the brick wall exterior is built from a horrible childhood, death of a child, and a lack of a relationship between her and her husband. She is very easy to sympathize with and as you read on you'll be wishing for her to get her happy ending. Sebastian, I felt, was more weakly written than Isabel. His humble beginnings are discussed, military service, and the traumatic death of his wife but he lacked the depth Isabel had. He always make the right decision, has a heart of gold, and I'm sure in his free time rescues puppies and babies. It started to feel very overdone.
The romance between the two is a very slow burn. They start off as strangers, move to friends, and at the very end of the book develop their romantic relationship. Their interactions are soft and gentle. There are really only two bedroom scenes and both were fairly short. I could see this book falling under the term of women's fiction.
The murder mystery story arc was intriguing and will keep you guessing. I do however, think the separate house maid murder and gold mine scam tangent should have been cut; it wasn't necessary and cluttered the story.
This is not a book that is going to elicit strong feelings, rather a chicken noodle soup comfort read. I suggest finding a babbling brook, laying down a blanket, and settling in for a nice read.