Let me start off by saying that I must now acquire a physical copy of this book. I must have one for my bookshelf. I must!
I happened upon this book while browsing Amazon. All of a sudden I got this alert at the top of my page stating that this book called Through The Smoke may be something I’d be wanting to read since I’ve read other books by the author. I thought to myself, well, maybe, but I’m not a really huge fan of historical romance books – least not anything that isn’t a classic.
Then I saw it was on Netgalley and put in a request for it, unknowing that one was already sitting in my inbox from the lovely author herself. So I thought that, you know, I will take a chance on this an bump it up on my To-Be-Read Pile.
I cannot praise this book enough. I just can’t. From the very beginning as I read the author’s note and saw that she was a huge fan of Jane Eyre (major points) and that Historical Romances are her first love, and she was so glad that she got the opportunity to get back to it, I was sold.
“He’d kill her. Just as soon as he could get his hands around her delicate neck, he’s stop the black heart that beat beneath all that misleading beauty and put an end to his own misery.”
From the very first page; from the very first sentence, my interest was caught; ensnared in a not so pretty world, with oh so pretty words – and held, knowing that I needed to see this through to the very end. I was captivated by the beautiful and vivid writing. The picture she was able to paint with her writing and descriptions of this dark, dreary and cold setting in not-so jolly old England in the early 1800′s, literally chilled me to the bone. Her words a hit to the chest that made me ache so many times throughout my reading that I couldn’t help but think: This woman is blowing my mind with this story.
The Earl of Druridge, Truman Stanhope has been desperately trying to get to the bottom of who killed his wife, Lady Katherine and set fire to his mansion for the last two years. Until he finds the culprit he cannot put the matter to rest. His deceased wife’s family is demanding he be charged with the murder, but the Earl, who was also caught in the blaze and has the scarred left hand to show for it, cannot remember anything after he confronted his wife for her betrayal. You see, she was carrying the child of another man and trying to pass it off as his, because she knew how much he wanted a heir.
So could he have caused it? Possibly.
“Amid the growling of the sky and the howling of the wind, Rachel could hear the surf not far away. Under normal circumstances, she loved the ocean, thought its rhythmic hush… hush the best of lullabies. Tonight it proved a lonely sound.”
Rachel McTavish is the bookseller’s daughter who lives in town. She’s one one of many who’ve been questioned in regards to the incident. But it wasn’t because of her involvement, it was due to the possible theory that her late father may have been the guilty party. Her father and brother both worked at the Earl’s mines and both died because of the job; her brother due to a cave-in, and her father due to miner’s lung. Rachel also has a secret; she may actually know the identity of the killer. Or does she?
These two were a treat to read about, their utter contempt and dislike for each other was a palpable thing. He disliked her because she was more than likely withholding vital information that he needed to have, and she despised him for the loss of half of her family. When Rachel is pressured into admitting that it was indeed her father who set the blaze that killed Lady Katherine and, destroyed part of his home, in hopes of the Earl allowing his doctor to look over her ailing mother, she is absolutely wretched to find out that it was all for nothing. Her mother had been to far gone for treatment and died before the doctor could reach, and she’d also sullied the name of her father.
But then something happens after this crucial point in the story, the Earl is revealed to be a rather kindhearted man, and Rachel realizes that there is more to her feelings of hate for the Earl. And that feeling is also mutual. But can what they have be accepted? I loved both of these characters so much.
Rachel was well-liked in the town but she always stood out. She was able to read and write and was different from the other women who would have already settled down with a husband and some children. She was a beautiful bookworm. The Earl, Truman. Le sigh. His very presence was made known in a room before he even spoke. But when he did, his voice was deep and demanded attention.
“The sooner he rid his room of any reminder of the bookseller’s daughter, the sooner he could forget the confusing emotions she inspired: the regret, the tenderness, the obligation, the longing.”
A Story of betrayal, forbidden love, family legacy, lies and murder. A story that will have you reading non-stop from start to finish. It is captivating, with some of the loveliest prose, dark and gritty. It will grab you and hold you tight and afterward leave you breathless in its intensity.
I highly recommend to fans of amazing, beautifully written historical romance, and has a penchant for stories that revolve around Jane Eyre inspired books.
An advance reading copy was provided by the publisher/author.
This review can also be seen on Fic Talk.