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“Although Truman's wife Lady Katherine betrayed and taunted him he must find her murderer. While his powerful in-laws are hoping he is hanged for their daughter's death he tries to find out who was responsible for the fire. After much investigating alongside his butler, Linley he turns to...”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It
“I'm currently going through a phase where historical romances seem to leap right into my hands to be read. Unfortunately, this one may have affected my taste for the genre. So little was good here among the just-okay and downright-bad elements of the novel that it was painful for me to even...”see full review » see other reviews »
“I'm currently going through a phase where historical romances seem to leap right into my hands to be read. Unfortunately, this one may have affected my taste for the genre. So little was good here among the just-okay and downright-bad elements of the novel that it was painful for me to even finish it.
The good that does exist: I really do enjoy Novak's writing, at least as far as it pertains with syntax and description (her characters leave a little more to be desired.) Her writing shows talent and professionalism.
But that is it. I get this is a romance and there is a certain level of "the usual" in the genre, but this story was predictable, bland, and unoriginal with no saving graces. Obviously, I expect the two protagonists to fall in love, but the accompanying mystery could have stood to be a little more mysterious. As it stood, it was your basic mystery thriller, decent at best.
The characters were also bland, as were their interactions. The discovery of the romance barely existed here and was glossed over to force through the longings and lust for one another and some badly described sex scenes.
I suppose all of this could have been enough to warrant three stars for a decent attempt, except for one thing that may have made me cold to the rest of the novel: The first sexual encounter is what nowadays would be labeled date rape. Hard to take in and hard to forgive.
I'm sorry, but this novel just left a bad taste in my mouth. So little of it was good, and just enough of it was terrible.”
“Although Truman's wife Lady Katherine betrayed and taunted him he must find her murderer. While his powerful in-laws are hoping he is hanged for their daughter's death he tries to find out who was responsible for the fire. After much investigating alongside his butler, Linley he turns to bookstore owner Rachel for answers. Was her father paid to set Truman's house on fire? And who paid him to do it?
Rachel meanwhile loses her mother and Truman's attention has turned the townspeople against her. Without her bookstore and having to take care of her brother she takes Truman's offer to work in his household service.
As the two try to stay away from one another Lady Katherine's murder seems to bring the two closer. As they try to figure out the mystery the more desperate the murderer seems to become.
Brenda Novak started out writing historical novels and has returned to her roots with Through the Smoke. This is my first historical novel by Novak and definitely will not be my last. I read this novel in one setting and really enjoyed it. I like historical romances but the mystery and suspense in this novel just heighten my enjoyment. If you are a fan of historical romances, mystery and suspense or of Novak you will need to read this novel!”
“to be read for Netgalley”Fyre.Katz wrote this review Thursday, October 17, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“The set up
Truman Stanhope, the earl of Druridge, has lived under a cloud of suspicion for two years. His unfaithful wife, Katherine, died in a fire at their manor home and many believe at his hand. Truman has no memory of what happened, only that he was on his way to confront her after learning she was pregnant with someone else's child. He believes Rachel McTavish and her family know who set the fire and he'll use any means to force her cooperation.
Rachel's father recently died and her mother is desperately ill so she's willing to accept medical help facilitated by the earl in return for telling him what she knows. When the people in the village learn of her betrayal of sorts, they turn on her and she's ostracized. Truman and Rachel are falling for each other but she's a commoner and he's facing the gallows if he doesn't find the real killer or succumb to the demands of a benefactor that can thwart his dead wife's family's efforts to charge him with the crime.
What I enjoyed
The mix of romance and mystery in an historical setting was a nice change of pace. Truman was a decent man, if not sometimes a bit clueless, and he was immediately taken by the bright and educated Rachel. She was strong willed, intelligent and attractive but still respectful of the social constraints of the 1830s. Their relationship was given an unintended boost and things steamed up pretty quickly. The obstacles they were forced to deal with because of her commoner status and his position made the affair poignant and really touching. Neither wasted a lot of time denying their feelings and there was always a sense that they were star-crossed lovers.
Solving the mystery was also interesting as there was a nice range of suspects to consider and my choices seem to change with each chapter. I still was unsure until the final reveal.
What bugged me somewhat
Truman's passiveness drove me crazy at times. While he was passionate about Rachel, his reluctance to effectively deal with those who betrayed him time and again was maddening. In fairness, I think his behavior was perfectly fitting for the aristocracy of that era. It still was irritating:)
The bottom line
This was an intriguing mystery, a heartwarming romance and an interesting story overall. My frustrations with Truman aside, I liked how his relationship with Rachel developed. I'm not an expert of this era but the details of the story seemed accurate for the period. And, I know this isn't intended to be a series but there are some secondary characters that really should be explored (hello, Penelope!).
(I received an ARC from NetGalley)”
“Through the Smoke was wonderful! It was exciting, mysterious, and full of passion! The chemistry between Rachel and Truman was amazing! They each had their own mountain of problems to deal with, and it became even worse once their lives collided. I don't want to give anything away, but the twists and turns in this story made it impossible to put it down. I couldn't wait to see what would happen next, and who would bring the next betrayal. I was constantly guessing. I loved the ending! You will not be disappointed with Through the Smoke. It was great!”Heather M wrote this review Tuesday, October 15, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I am reviewing this from an ARC given to me by the author. All thoughts are my honest opinion.
This author is relatively new to me. I have read two Whiskey Creek novels from her. When I was offered the opportunity to read Through the Smoke, I took it for two reasons. One, I wanted to see if her writing was the same caliber across genres. Two, I am, proudly, from a coal mining family. I really wanted to see how that was written of. I am not a big historical romance fan. Most who know me, know I read across genres. You never know what I am reading but it is usually not historical romance. The reason for this is that sometimes the author gets so caught up in the language, the fashions, the customs that I feel like I am reading a school book with a little romance tossed in. Through the Smoke surprised me. I was so lost in the story that I had to actually go back and check for the above mentioned items to write the review! Yes there is a bit of language differences, references to fashion and customs but the main thing was the story. That is why I am giving this book 5 stars. Ms. Novak wrote a story. One you can get lost in. One you can feel the characters in. One you laugh, cry and get angry in. For me, one that represented coal miners. Yes there were some ugly, hard coal miners in it. But there were also references to hard workers doing a hard job for their families. Coal miner's have rarely made their worth. Whole families have lived and died for coal. And some miner's have been rough, ugly men who were hard on any woman stepping down into the mines. Different countries and different eras, I was still able to relate to the coal mining references. Kudos to Ms. Novak.
The story itself takes many twist and turns. When I thought I had it figured out, I was given pieces to make me doubt my choice. By the time I absolutely knew I was far to invested in how it would play out to care I guessed it. I recommend Through the Smoke not just to fans of historical romance and romance in general but also to those who are interested in exploring the historical romance genre. The book is due out fall of 2013 and I think it is a perfect time to get lost for a weekend. Wear your favorite jammies, put something in the crock pot, grab your favorite beverage and get comfy...then get swept away.”