I picked up the latest offering from the Caldwell stables more out of habit having pre-ordered all her releases - more than anything.
If anything at all, I was hoping it would be at best a good read. It would take the series forward in a good way. That’s because the core elements in the story were way too familiar for the Caldwells.
A snarly boy - From Martha’s Frederick and Leo all the way back to when Andrew Barrett was a pup the angry boy was nothing new!
A snarly/mourning H - Jasper, Auric, Blackthorne, Marcus, Rutland - too many to count!
A street rag h - Cleo, Ophelia, Reggie, Helena: Coming last in the series meant Gertrude did not have the “shock advantage” to the “sisters” before her.
So I was not expecting to blow my mind away the way it did! Each of the characters began the arc with a combination of suspicion-guilt-hope-fear. All of them were akin to a pup kicked way too many times to trust again!
But the journey they each had to undertake did not seem contrived. After a long long time a Christi Caldwell story seemed “effortlessly emotional”. While Gertrude going toe-to-toe with Marquess was to be expected, there was a surprising kindness to the “Hell and Sin lady” none of the 4 above managed.
For the snarl that Edwin evinced from the page 1 his tender love for his son shone over EVERYTHING else he feared or felt. For the best of dads’ in the CaldWorld - and I count Nathaniel and Marcus here - the sentiment of being a father “comes to them” during the story.
The present day arc between Edwin and Stephen was lovely to see but it were the scenes “of the past” that really made me tear up. A sentiment I haven’t felt since Phoebe’s story about her hands or Nate’s breakdown in the park knowing the truth about Phoebe. The reminiscences of stolen trips to the stables to the Gunthers’ were a delightful addition and strategically placed in the story.
“I won’t be having any more siblings too” retort towards the end was supposed to be funny but made me wail out the loudest at how far the little boy’s fiery spirit has “mended but stayed the same”.
Honestly - I did not care one way or the other about the HEA between Gertrude and Edwin in this story as Stephen seemed central to their existence anyways. Gertrude seemed more a mother to Stephen than a lover to Edwin. And Edwin seemed more like a father who’s very existence was around his son - August - past and present alike. And that seemed “fitting”.
While it’s a grateful addition section usually for the last paragraph - and in this book that is deserved for Dr. Carlson - I’d want to thank Christi for who was NOT in this book.
1. Broderick wasn’t managing his sisters’s life - for once. 2. Cleo/Ophelia weren’t being trying to butt in Gertrude’s battles. 3. Hell & Sin was absent for most part of the story. 4. No forced “ton events”. No mandatory dance lessons, clothes fittings, soirees to attend, etc. You get the drift.
This was a fitting story of the THREE main characters who’s lives were left at sea and who tried to balance the universe the best way they knew! Having none of those distractions bought the key emotions to the fore - the way it really should be!
I will be re-reading this for a number of times for a very long time!
I enjoyed the story of Gertrude, but I did find it a bit tedious and lonwinded with the constant asides, soliliques and intraspective monologues, or whatever you call them. It became boring after awhile