Liquid Silver Books, $6.99, ISBN 978-1-62210-249-5
Historical Romance, 2015
Highwaymen heroes seem to have gone out of fashion these days – every dude wants to be a spy nowadays – so One True Love has an old school throwback feel.
The old school vibes are reinforced by the heroine who doesn’t even try to offer lip service to present day expectations of a romance heroine being even a little bit independent. Catherine Amberly is 18, can’t lie, gets feisty and gives lip at the most inconvenient moments, clams up and keeps silent just when she should say something, dresses up as a boy to do “adventures”, and so forth. Our heroine is not keen on FitzJohn Carlton, the son of the Earl of Carlysle, who seems to be interested in her. He may be handsome and is considered the catch of the season, but he just makes her skin crawl. Well, her instincts are sound – while she doesn’t know it yet, readers would already know by that point that FitzJohn is having an affair with his stepmother and he has done some bad things in the past. Our hero, the highwayman Morgan MacCormack, wants to take down FitzJohn as a part of his revenge on that fellow, and his path crosses that of Catherine soon enough when she too decides to take matters in her own hands once FitzJohn shows just how far he would cross the line to have her.
Well, as I’ve mentioned, Catherine is pretty much an old school heroine to the core. To give the author credit, she doesn’t allow her heroine to go too far off the deep end – while Catherine can be annoying at times, she doesn’t become a big liability. Morgan is Morgan – he’s basically another action hero, and while he’s obviously a far more capable person overall compared to Catherine, I’m not sure why he’d fall in love with our heroine. When he’s interacting with her, he’s mostly getting exasperated by her or trying to be patient with her. These two have some pleasant times together, but I’m told that they do – these two characters’ more direct interactions are often of the hiss-and-spat kind rather than tender moments. As a result, I’m not too convinced about the plausibility of the romance.
Oh, and FitzJohn is a mustache-twirling villain of the shouting, snarling “Mua-ha-ha-ha!” type – there is nothing subtle about him at all.
One True Love is basically a dose of old school “charms” (you’d either like that kind of charm or don’t, I’d imagine), but I find that it’s still within “okay” territory as the heroine doesn’t do anything too dumb. It’s just too bad that the broad-stroke one-note characterization and frequently melodramatic turn of events only add to the overall feel that this story is more theatrics than substance.