Monday, November 18, 2019

The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

Let’s begin with the summary:

Camille Iverness can take care of herself. She’s done so since the day her mother abandoned the family and left Camille to run their shabby curiosity shop. But when a violent betrayal leaves her injured with no place to hide, Camille must allow a mysterious stranger to come to her aid.

Jonathan Gilchrist never wanted to inherit Kettering Hall. As a second son, he was content to work as the village apothecary. But when his brother’s death made him heir just as his father’s foolish decisions put the estate at risk, only the sale of a priceless possession—a ruby called the Bevoy—can save the family from ruin. But the gem has disappeared. And all trails lead to Iverness Curiosity Shop—and the beautiful shop girl who may be the answer to his many questions.

Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, these two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, they will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.

And now, my review:

Sarah’s writing has strong prose and this story had good pacing, generally.

The heroine has a lot to overcome. She's lost her mother, which makes us sympathetic toward her, especially as we see her strengths. Someone she trusts is a selfish, greedy, neglectful person who isn't against putting her in harm's way.

The hero has to rise to challenges he hadn't expected to face. His was a subtle characterization, compared to the heroine's melodrama, which I appreciated. He was also noble, a highly respectable trait.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, I found quite a bit of melodrama in this historical. This begins with telling phrases and exaggerated words, like “lungs starved for air” when the story didn’t call for it, which means readers may not feel it. Or verbs like “ripped” and “wrenched.” Or when the heroine beats the man’s chest with “all the strength her frame could muster,” which felt contrived. Those examples of overboard wording turned me off several times. However, when the author toned down the melodrama, and allowed us to feel the emotions of the characters, there were some poignant passages. I understand some characters may be melodramatic, so if this was an intentional choice, I can respect that. Unfortunately, I’ve seen melodrama in several historicals lately and these instances pull me out of the stories. If you read the summary above, you'll find melodrama there as well.

The romantic thread in this story was well done, overall.

There were several instances of the “could not help but” cliché. And when the heroine glanced at someone it was written she “cut her eyes.” Eeks.

I found myself skimming parts of this story. I wish the author and publisher well, even though this novel didn't appeal to me.

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