Thursday, 11 September 2014

Review: Trapped at the Altar - Jane Feather*

Headstrong Ariadne Daunt is convinced she loves handsome Gabriel Fawcett, but her grandfather has other plans for her. He decrees that she marry Ivor Chalfont, thus forging a powerful alliance between the two warring families who share ownership of their valley. Given no time to plot an escape, Ari finds herself standing reluctantly at the altar, swearing to honor and obey a man who is not her choice. 
Ivor has treasured Ari as a friend ever since he was brought to the valley as a child, but now he feels a man's desires. He longs to take the beautiful young woman to his bed and make their marriage more than an empty vow. Ari may believe she loves another man, but Ivor believes otherwise—and he will not rest until he gains her heart, her trust . . . and her passion.
On reading the synopsis for Trapped at the Altar I couldn't wait to get stuck into the book. I love the friends to lovers trope and the fact that Feather's novel is set in the not often featured 1600s really piqued by interest.

Feather's book (God, don't you wish you had a name like Feather?) is a difficult one for me to sum up, maybe because I've just this very second put it down or maybe because it's one that I can't make my mind up about.

Firstly, it is hard to love the main character, Ariadne, especially at first as she comes across as incessantly naive, stubborn and spoilt. Believing herself to be in love with Gabriel, a poet from a nearby settlement, Ari refuses to commit to her relationship with Ivor and does begin to grate on the nerves at some points, especially in the face of the gentle patience she is consistently offered. For himself, Ivor is much easier to like as a character; Feather gives us some great insights into his thoughts and his devotion and understanding of Ari is sure to melt many a reader's heart.

Ivor and Ari's relationship is a solid friendship from the beginning, which is a pleasant element to their tale, and we get to accompany the character's on their slow journey to romance. Occasionally, this journey could be a little too slow and it is a while before we do get to focus on the relationship of our leads, but there is enough interest in the scheming of the novel to keep readers interested up until that point. The ending, in contrast, was perhaps a bit too abrupt for me and we left the characters too soon after the revelation of their secrets. As much as I claim to dislike them, a nice epilogue some years into the future would have rounded off the novel nicely.

What I did love about the book was the setting. The 1600s isn't an era that gets a lot of attention from historical romance authors who tend to stick to the ever popular Regency era, alongside the occasional foray into the Victorian age. For me, Feather could have amped up her period setting, going beyond the occasional clothing reference or twist of dialogue. However, I don't really read historical romances for a full insight into the period and Trapped at the Altar's setting was different enough and detailed enough for it to be refreshing and add that little bit of extra interest for the reader.

Overall, I think (having worked through my issues with you) that I did quite enjoy Trapped at the Altar. My first novel from Jane Feather, Trapped at the Altar is a nice romance with a great slow evolution that leaves plenty of opportunities for some sweet moments, as well as those more spicy. With a refreshing setting and some really well developed characters I'd happily recommend the novel to anyone who likes their characters to work a bit for their HEA.

*ARC received in return for an honest review. Trapped at the Altar is published by Pocket Books and is available now.

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