My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Note: This review and rating (3.5) is completely based on Gaelen Foley’s novella, Ever After (3.5 stars) and Loretta Chases’s The Jilting of Lord Rothwick (3.5 stars).
“Ever After”, Gaelen Foley
In a whole, Stephanie Lauren’s novella is the longest one here I think which takes up more than half the book. Then comes this novella by GF, which was very short. I mean 14/15 pages at max. The premise is Princess Charlotte’s marriage to Prince Leopold which the H/h of the story, James Montford, the Earl of Archer and his wife, Elle, the Countess attend.
I took a little issue with Elle never calling James by his given name, it feels weird. He’s been Archer throughout the book. Well, sorry but I’d like to call him James, thank you! So James is a very influential figure in the House of Lords. His father and elder brother passed away, making him the Earl. But as a younger son, James has been in the military. He’s also been in the war with France. He’s now a war hero, called as Colonel Lord Archer and is revered by many. So, he is rather politically ambitious at the moment. But it’s because he wants the best for the country and nothing else. While serving his country, what he has forgotten is that he’s got a beautiful wife at home and two young sons. The story is basically about misunderstandings and considering the length, I have to say GF did a pretty good job of portraying that. James thinks Eleanor or Elle is ‘frigid’. He loves her very much and wants her with a lot of passion but he doesn’t let his passionate nature rule him because he thinks Elle might find it crass. Though, recently, they’d become very distant but he has never been unfaithful to her. Even when his enemies have set some married society hussy to seduce him and create a scandal, he has thwarted that with success. James also has PTSD but he doesn’t like to talk about it, not even to Elle.
But Elle doesn’t think like James at all. She loves James too, wants him like any woman would want her husband- to be very uninhibited in bed. Sadly, she doesn’t really know what James wants. Recently, after spying on him in some ball, she’s been pretty sure that he’s taken a mistress and that, more than anything, has made her angry and a little depressed. She knows upper class marriages are like that yet can’t bring herself to come to terms with this. She doesn’t know that James loves her too. She thinks James married her for her beauty, lineage and fact that she’d been born and bred to be the wife of a lord. She also can’t stand the fact that James is so busy all the time and so ambitious about his political career as he’d asked her to put hints here and there to further his goal. But, Elle would do her duty as she’s determined to do.
The story revolves around this issue and ends in a day. Later they solve their problems that starts with an argument, then a little talk and the rekindling of the passion that has been long since buried because of all those misunderstandings. Now, I don’t know; they’ve been married for 5 years, how could he not know how passionate his wife is? How come she didn’t know he loves her? Maybe they were distant from the beginning, who knows. But, overall, I liked this little novella; must be the 1st one I’ve ever read by GF. Correct me if I’m wrong but I don’t think she has any other novella published in some other anthology. 3.5 stars, could’ve been a great full length novel. Hmm, James kinda reminded me of Damien, whom me *heart*. :p
“The Jilting of Lord Rothwick”, Loretta Chase
Damn, LC’s novella started off so well! It is also about misunderstandings but this time couple is only engaged, not already married. And it also happens on the occasion of another Royal Wedding, this time of Queen Victoria’s.
Hugh Fitzwalter, the Marquess of Rothwick is in a muddle, his recently engaged betrothed has sent him a note citing that she can’t marry him because ‘they won’t suit’! He can’t believe his eyes. How easily she dismissed the Marquess of Rothwick! What? She, a nobody, whose father’s money came from commerce and not anything noble? What will happen to the humongous debts his father left behind? Seeing no other way (and not much time to court another heiress) Hugh rides hell-bent for leather in a stormy afternoon from London to this little countryside to face off with his fiancée Barbara.
Barbara Findley knows she’s not much of a catch (though I don’t know why, Hugh seemed pretty enamored of her looks). It’s only her dowry of some hundred thousand pounds that got her the marquess. So far, she could avoid and reject anyone came forward, knowing all of them are fortune hunters and because she didn’t feel anything special for any of them. But Hugh is Hugh and she just couldn’t ignore him. His personality, his confidence and bearing, not to mention his masculine good looks charmed her beyond anything. She’s done the inevitable and fallen in love, only to know that he’d never love her back. Not someone like her!
Anyway, on this rainy afternoon, Barbara doesn’t know what to say to Hugh. At first, Hugh’s words to her came off pretty pompous and kinda insensitive to me, but somehow I felt that there’s more into this. So did Barbara from the very subtle changes in his facial expression. She’s smart enough to get that yet she knew that without a love match, she won’t be happy. It’s also a day before Queen Victoria’s wedding and her love match to Prince Albert was bandied about the whole England. Barbara wants the same for herself and Hugh. Only if... She asks Hugh to stay the night but he leaves preferring to stay at an inn. Before leaving, he accedes to her wishes of breaking the engagement off. At night, Barbara had to see him, so she goes to the inn and finds Hugh foxed. From his drunken monologues, Barbara learns that whatever pain or regret she saw on his face was true. She tries talking to him but Hugh falls asleep in the middle of it. The next morning, as he woke from his drunken stupor, Hugh seemed to remember something Barbara said about love and themselves which made him ride again hell-bent for leather (pardon the repetition, lol) to see her and make her understand that he feels exactly the same way for her.
After that, the rest is what disappointed me because this one was as short as GF’s novella. So short that I was pretty pissed. I already mentioned that I loved it in the beginning and thought it had a great potential. I was hoping it’d be longer, which would’ve made it a great read IMO. Also, there was no love scene. I mean hello?! Hugh was hot-man-already-hopelessly-in-love (I could so totally think of Hugh Jackman, trust me!) so without love scenes, there are no fun! But LC’s writing was, as usual, amazing. Loved it to bits. Think I have to get back to her new release soon because I’ve realized how much I missed her books. 3.5 stars.