My thoughts -
I seriously wanted to like this book. I had heard amazing things about it and, knowing it is a love story and I am a sucker for love stories, I was so excited to dive in.
When I did, I was met with: an unexpectedly low pace; major character inconsistencies; a really weird atmosphere that didn't match up at all with the time period; modern dialogue; stupid, inconsistent emotions, or too much exaggerated emotion; and a whole lot of waiting...and waiting...and waiting.
Character notes -
I honestly felt no real or lasting respect, love, or sympathy for these characters. At times I would find myself going, "Aw, how cute!" or "Oooh that's intense." But most of the time I felt: "What? He just said that?" or "He was just displaying a totally different emotion and then without notice or reason, BAM he's different." One moment, Jeremiah Martin was a mysterious, weird character who you didn't know if you could trust. The next, he was a guest in Mariah's gatehouse because her aunt had left him to her as a manservant. But more than that - she suddenly trusts him!
All the characters acted either overly dramatic or really bland about things. Captain Matthew Bryant was, of all of them, the most steady/likable character, but even he acted out of character. I admired him some of the time, and then other times could care less about what happens to him.
Story notes -
This is not a well-developed story. Inconsistencies are everywhere. There are a few loose ends that I wish had been tied up, but even worse - there are loose beginnings! Example: Halfway through the book, two characters started talking about a conversation that I felt like I was supposed to know about but that I never read. I was dreadfully confused. A lot of the story seemed forced, unnatural - like Julie Klassen just had to make it all work. I know what that feels like/looks like in my own work sometimes and I saw that issue clearly all throughout this story.
The love story progressed slowly (a little bit too slowly), but it was probably the most stable aspect of the story. And still there were inconsistencies to it... Like, big ones, such as - why is Bryant attracted to Mariah? They hardly even knew each other, and Bryant had only heard terrible things about her. It was a bit clearer toward the end, but not satisfactory.
One word to sum up this book (and final thoughts) -
Inconsistent. I've used this word many times in this review, and honestly that's the only word that comes to mind. That and weird. I'm definitely going to get rid of this book now...it's taking up space on my bookshelves where really good favorites could be. I'm so disappointed in this book and don't even have the desire to try out Klassen's other books, for fear of falling into yet another under-developed, slightly stupid story.