Top critical review
Start out perfect, middle is interesting, the end is disappointing
January 27, 2016
Oh, how I loved this book from the beginning. I was savoring the detailed descriptions of the main heroine and her family, the well researched aspects of her life and admiring the author and the heroine herself for taking charge of her life and choosing to live it .. well... as a man in order to save her family, but also in order to get the freedom she yearned for.
The meeting with the main hero is incredibly well done: detailed, vivid, well described. Their first interactions -- a great description of the beginning friendship, and once again, great period details (I loved that discussion about whether yews will feed on a wet pasture and how to decrease rents fairly). It was one of those books that you enjoy and savor while reading.
And then our "Mr. North" went to London with "his" family. "What???" I thought when I read that. Isn't "he" afraid that "he" will be discovered/approached by his supposed brother -- the other Mr. North or someone who knows him? Don't worry, that plot line never came to be, but the question of why our Mr. North wasn't worried about that was never addressed, either. But this is where the book went from "excellent period romance" into "Mary/Marty Sue with encores non-stop". You see, everywhere Mr. North goes, he gets admired. His jokes are the sort to conquer the "ton" immediately. And we get to hear about his goings-on in detail. In tedious detail. His absurdity upon absurdity, which gets celebrated more and more. And his ability to spend hours upon hours with "his" secret love, without letting on anything. That well built-up tension and love seems to fall flat here.
And the denouement... oh.. hmm.. Well, I don't want to spoil it, so I can't say what happens, but it just doesn't feel real or realistic. And there's no real tension there, no romance, so to speak. Somehow it's all mechanical at best. Perhaps it's supposed to be funny -- and maybe it is -- but it feels as if the author is enjoying that comical streak of Mr. North far too much. Or maybe this is the book that the author meant to write, but then it's very different from the book I was enjoying in the beginning.
Overall, I don't regret reading it, and it was time well spent, but I do wish the book was shorter and more of the book that it was in the beginning.