I honestly struggled to finish this book and it was such a damn shame because I actually wanted to like it, I really did. The writing style is polished and the editing is good, I have absolutely no complaints there. The characters are animated and have personality, the main plot about Lana’s escape and her attempts to investigate the traitors is intriguing, and there was genuine heat between the main characters that developed at a good pace between the two leads—so where did things go wrong?
The best I can come up with was simply that it was a combination of several small problems that eventually became big problems for me. It was overlong, tried to juggle too many plot lines at once, and even the love scenes between Graham and Lana started to get tiring to read. In the beginning I was genuinely immersed, but by the halfway point I found myself bored to tears.
It is important to note that I hadn’t read the first book in the Lords of Essex series, and quite frankly I’m rather used to being able to read historical romance novels in any order. It’s obvious that the events in My Darling, My Disaster take place at the same time as My Rogue, My Ruin and readers are given a sort of cliff notes retelling of the first book. I found these extra scenes confusing initially, as they seemed to be of importance and I had assumed they had to do with Lana’s Russia plot. These little pieces of the other story showed up at seemingly random times and were incredibly disjointed. I realized pretty quickly that they had next to nothing to do with the main story line, but it still didn’t help with the fact that I found them pretty distracting. What’s worse is that a major plot spoiler is tossed in later on in the story that I’m fairly certain was a pretty big twist in the first novel. While reading I had considered picking up the first book to learn more about Brynn, but that spoiler at the end really kind of ruined it. Why bother when the mystery is gone?
“Has anything ever been nearly in your grasp and all you had to do was reach out and take it, but you were too afraid of what the consequences would bring?”
A casualty of this confused swinging back and fourth was Graham, whose personality and moods would shift so wildly. Speaking of Graham, he came off as kind of dense. There were so many things that were glaringly obvious and he just didn’t see any of it, and ends up making everything worse. He never takes the traitor plot anywhere near as serious as he should’ve. Add on top of that ugly jealousy and he quickly went from being charming to arrogant and it was really unattractive. I couldn’t stand that he so obviously looked down on Lana because of their perceived societal ranks, and because of this he chose to stay blind to the obvious. The more I read, the more I disliked him, and that just doesn’t work in a romance novel. Especially since I actually liked Lana a great deal.
It’s unfortunate that by the end I had completely checked out of the book. I finished in the hopes that the story would redeem itself, of getting a satisfying resolution to an incredibly messy and unfocused plot. I stayed for the climax, which did an alright job wrapping everything up, but then sighed as I was forced to sit through sex followed by a separate discussion of having even more sex. Almost a solid 10% of the the book is spent on this. It’s bad when the spicy bits start to become tiring.
I think that the authors have some promise, they have some good ideas that were simply executed poorly. I think if they had focused the story more directly on the main two characters and separated it more from the previous novel it would’ve gone so much better. It makes sense that it would have to take place in a similar time frame given that Lana is Brynn’s maid, but you’ve got to leave some of the good parts for readers to discover in the other book.
Lord Graham Findlay, the shamelessly virile Viscount Northridge, has a disgraceful secret, one he’ll do anything to hide. Holding his passions at bay, Gray has sworn off the fairer sex. But when temptation comes in the form of an intriguing woman he cannot easily avoid, Gray’s integrity—and his most depraved desires—are put to the ultimate test.
Self-assured and carefree Princess Svetlanka Volkonsky never dreamed she would one day become a lady’s maid to avoid a dangerous traitor. But danger also comes in many guises, especially in the sinful and devastatingly attractive lord of the manor who introduces her to a world of singular pleasure.
When Lana’s past emerges to threaten the life and the false identity she’s built in England, she and Gray find themselves falling into a tangled web of lies and intrigue…and the last place either of them expected to fall…in love.