Oct 18 2007
Dear Ms. Kleypas:
This was a much anticipated book from Cam’s first appearance in the Wallflower series. While many readers believed Cam to be destined for a romance with Daisy, Daisy was paired off with someone else and Cam was left for his own book. While the story contains a romance, it is much more a story of Cam’s life and Amelia’s life and their intersections rather than a union of the two.
Cam Rohan is a gypsy who has forsaken his heritage to work as the majordomo of St. Vincent’s gambling clubs. He suffers a good luck curse. Every endeavor which he undertakes result in more good things happening to him. Conveniently, loaded with all the money that a man could possibly need, Cam feels smothered by his good fortune.
Cam’s character is set up as one that is feeling some kind of “life crisis.” His friends, what few he has, are married and starting families. Cam begins to think of his past and his lost “tribe” and finds the constraint of the society life almost more than a Rom should bear.
Amelia Hathaway is the figurative head of her family who has become, through a curse of their own, the newest family of the Ramsay viscountcy. Miss Amelia’s older brother, Leo, is the newest Viscount, but he’s more intent on drowning his sorrows in liquor, women and other vices to pay attention to his family’s needs. The book opens with Amelia searching Cam’s gambling house and then a neighboring brothel in order to seek out her brother and haul him home.
The opening sequence had me raising my eyebrows as Amelia, without regard for her reputation, first demands entrance into an exclusive male gambling hall and then down the street into a brothel ending with a public kiss exchanged with Cam in the middle of the street, blocked by only the carriage. Later on, Amelia throws up concern for her reputation when Cam maneuvers her into private situations but those protestations seemed incongruous given her initial forays into the streets of London.
One of the problems with this book was its cast of many characters. Not only were there five Hathaways, all of whom demanded to be both seen and heard, but also St. Vincent, Evie, Lord Westcliff, Lilith, Captain Swansea, another Roma, and a ghost. Individually, Cam and Amelia were interesting characters although Cam appeared to have a deeper character arc than Amelia.
There are many issues that are unresolved at the end of this book than tend to make this story feel like part of a larger series instead of a wholly contained novel. To some degree, that lack of resolution of some issues, particularly Cam’s past, seems to belie the seeming contentment that he has found with Amelia. I found the failure to deal with the societal issues of a gently bred woman’s marriage to a gypsy to be disconcerting especially since Amelia had a number of unmarried younger sisters who would be making their debut in a few years. I couldn’t help but wonder if their lives wouldn’t have some taint as a result of a marriage between Amelia and Cam. It was hard for me to buy that this wouldn’t be an issue with Amelia since her whole life seemed to be consumed with protecting and providing for her family.
While I believed that the two were well suited, it seemed that the plot revolved around their individual lives rather than the union of their lives. I liked the parts which discussed the flavor of the Roma and I liked each character individually. I thought Cam was a particularly lovely hero with a different type of sensibility; more of a seducer than a commander. But I think the book suffered from its own identity crisis. It wasn’t sure whether it was the love story between Cam and Amelia, the redemptive story of Amelia’s wastrel brother Leo, the pathos of the Roma lifestyle; the romance between Amelia’s sister and their Roma servant, and so on. All of the issues that were raised were interesting and poignant, yet none felt fully fleshed out. It is above average but the seeming inconsistencies in character and the multitude of unresolved issues left me shaking my head a bit. C+
This book can be purchased in mass market. No ebook format as far as I know.