Wednesday, October 14, 2015

ARC Review: Say You Love Me by Ally Broadfield

Click here to pre-order the book on Amazon, release date: October 19, 2015

A lady who loves fairy tales, and a marquess who loves Math -- how can you not want to read a book with such characters?

Then you discover that said lady is engaged to another man, whose mistress disappears on the night of their engagement, and is later discovered dead.

I was intrigued, so I requested an ARC.

By anyone's definition, Abigail is living a fairy tale -- she's engaged to her childhood friend and love, but Abigail can't shake the feeling that there's something wrong with her dream-come-true story. Robert, her fiance, isn't the same man she grew up with. Then, she spies upon him and his sister's maid, Sarah, in a dark hallway, on her way to the ball celebrating their engagement. I have to admit I didn't like Abigail's passivity -- I would have confronted Robert right then and there, but she allowed the matter to slip. (And did the slightly passive-aggressive thing of casually mentioning the incident, without naming names, to Robert's sister, Lady Jane.)

If her stomach quivered slightly when thoughts of him consorting with his sister's maid entered her mind, well surely that was natural for a young, inexperienced girl. Her social circle was quite limited, and aside from Henrietta, she wasn't acquainted with anyone who had married yet.
- loc 119

It's the mystery of the Sarah's death that takes center stage here -- Abigail sees her prior to the engagement ball. Then Robert disappears after their first dance, only to reappear later on to announce that the maid (his mistress) is missing. Her dead body is then discovered in the Thames.

All signs point to Robert's guilt, and Abigail wants to cry off -- but their family's long-standing friendship with Robert's family compels her to stand by him during this time.

Enter Edmund, who is the older brother of Abigail's best friends, Lady Georgiana and Lady Henrietta. Even though there's a Bow Street Runner on the case, Abigail wants to find out for herself whether Robert is guilty or innocent. She enlists the help of her two best friends, who then ask their brother, Edmund's help. I love Edmund (and it's obvious that the author favors him, too, because his character is so well-defined in this story) -- he is the brother to six sisters, and a son to a mother who has not yet recovered from her husband's passing. He knows his duty to his sisters, and is doing an excellent job of staying away from the usual pitfalls that befall a gentleman of means. He doesn't gamble. He doesn't have mistresses. And he doesn't intend to marry until he sees all his sisters comfortably settled.

Edmund studied the worry lines that had formed around her eyes and mouth. He disliked seeing her in such a state. He wasn't sure when she had transformed from his little sister's friend into a woman, but he was very aware of her now.
- loc 1009

The one thing missing from Edmund is a showcase of his mathematical abilities -- it is mentioned, and there are some instances where he displays the very logical side of his personality, but it didn't delve as deeply into it as I would have wanted. The same is true for Abigail, whose interest in fairy tales is only very lightly tackled in the story. In a sense, I think the author is trying to avoid being too esoteric and is keeping the focus on the mystery at hand.

There were really good aspects in the investigation (I loved the involvement of Edmund's butler, but, unfortunately that really didn't produce anything helpful), and some points that felt rushed -- but, on the whole, I thought that the author handled this central storyline very well.

But, beyond the mysterious circumstances of Sarah's death, the author still needed to tackle how she could get Robert out of the picture and Edmund and Abigail together. Because so much of the book is devoted to the investigation, there really wasn't much opportunity to see how well our hero and heroine get along -- though, the few (and brief) instances (mostly at balls while dancing) that they do are very promising.

Overall, a solid book to spend your afternoon (or evening) reading.

Say You Love Me is Book 1 in Ally Broadfield's Unexpected Suitor series, and will be released on October 19, 2015. To find out more about Ally Broadfield and her books, click below:

Disclosure: I received this ARC through Netgalley. Thank you to Ally Broadfield and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.


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