Seduction & Scandal (The Brethren Guardians, #1) - Charlotte Featherstone "THE FIRST TIME I MET DEATH, IT WAS AT A BALL AND WE DANCED A WALTZ..."

Well, with an opening line as intriguing as that I found my already high expectations sky-rocketing. I admit that I don't usually read historical romances as I tend to be rather against the patronisation of women and the whole death-by-corset thing they had going on back then. This, however, had excellent ratings by the few lucky enough to get an ARC copy and also that title speaks to me - I cannot resist a bit of scandal (or seduction, for that matter).

As one of my first historical romances (I'm not going to count Outlander), the novel was fairly good. I've heard it said before that Charlotte Featherstone writes with a poetic style that you either love or hate... well, I beg to differ because it was just rather so-so. I like beautiful, flowy writing; I think that's why I can't resist those books written in verse. However, apart from the opening that made me sit up straight and take notice, the rest of the book's writing bored me somewhat. In fact, there were quite a few things about this book that were, at best, dull.

The romantic aspect held all of my attention. I found the love scenes both sweet and steamy, and you could also see how the relationship would develop from curiosity and attraction to love and caring... without any of the unconvincing jumps to insta-love that romance novels today seem highly fond of. Isabella was a far better developed character than Lord Black, as a reader I felt an instant connection with her that was only strengthened by the delving into her past and writings. I loved the idea that she wrote as an escape from a society that holds such high and restricting expectations of people - and especially women. Lord Black, on the other hand, never seemed real to me. I mean that we never got inside his head properly and I felt constantly distanced from him throughout the novel, despite the author's attempts to bring out his character through discovering the mysteries of his past. I did think he was incredibly sexy and dark and dangerous and many other characteristics that are attractive in a romantic hero... but he was also highly one-dimensional.

The thing about romance stories is that romance alone is rarely enough. There needs to be a subplot or two going on to make it work - maybe a mystery or family problem to fill the blanks in between our lovers getting together. This book had that, but I found it incredibly weak and boring. I didn't care at all for the mysterious murder stories, the seances, and the attempts to delve into a bit of Greek mythology. If I'd just read the romance scenes then I would have enjoyed the book a whole lot more, but then it wouldn't have even been long enough to get published as a full novel.

I'm not sorry I read it and I would recommend the book to fans of the romance genre but I thought there were a great deal of things that needed improvement - most importantly, it needed a more engaging subplot.

Many thanks to netgalley and the publisher for providing this for review.