I've just finished reading The Last Lord of the Moors (Kindle edition) by Isabella Brooke. This as a cheapie or freebie (I cannot remember which) from the Amazon bestsellers list and I was looking forward to reading it, particularly seeing the favourable reviews it had garnered on Amazon.
The blurb on the back of the book summarises the story as follows:-
"In the twenty-first century, who needs Lords anymore? Richard, Lord of the Manor of Arkthwaite, lives alone in his crumbling house, resenting his hereditary position. He’s hoping to drink himself to an early grave and bring the title to an end. His bleak plans are upset when newcomer Helena decides to shake up this fading community. She’s been jilted and she needs a new project, so she joins forces with local headmistress Vicky and together they hatch a plan to bring broadband to this remote spot. Their lives clash with Richard’s as the cable needs to be dug across his land. But when Richard falls for Helena, it gets more complicated. She’s suspicious of men and their compliments; and he has his own reasons for wanting to stay single. Can they both shake off their histories to bring a better future to the village - and their own lives? Contains: romance, community regeneration, pagans, over-the-top mothers, British humour, rain."
This is a contemporary romance containing a mix of warmth, humour and community spirit. I would say that the book as falling into the category of romantic comedy or maybe chick-lit. There are no slap-stick moments, unlike a lot of romantic comedies, and the author has the grace to allow the reader to find the humour within the general tone of the book rather than a specific set-up event.
I felt that the story started off well, although my initial spark of concern arose during Chapter One when the author writes “Helena let the “dear” slide. Older women could just about get away with it, but woe betide any man who tried such a word on her; it had much the same effect as “sweetie”, “gorgeous” and “babe”. Not that she’d ever been called babe, but she lived in hope, just so she could unleash her inner feminist upon the perpetrator”. Later in that first chapter, it reads that the lead female character “...made a mental note to start leaving stridently feminist magazines lying around the office. A couple of back issues of “Slit” might open his eyes to a few things.”
This was a warning sign of things to come and I felt that a good underlying story was somewhat lessened by a somewhat unbelievable heroine, Helena. I appreciate that she was jilted at the altar, after trying to be the women she believed her ex-fiance wanted. I also appreciate that she was trying to rebuild her life in a way that suits her, rather than pandering to other people’s perception of what she should be. That is all very admirable, however this doesn’t lessen the fact that, for me, she was just plain annoying.
Despite my initial annoyance from that first chapter, I continued with the book and started to really rather enjoy it. I liked the thought of this little village in the depths of beyond and the villagers coming together in a huge show of community-mindedness. The story was gentle escapism with a sweet (if obvious) underlying love story developing between the main characters.
Unfortunately, the story was then almost completely ruined for me at the end of Chapter 9 (72 % into the Kindle edition) when the hero, Richard, tries to treat Helena to a spa day, a gesture to which she takes great offence believing that he wants to change her. At this point, I found myself totally infuriated by the book and the (in my opinion) completely absurd over-reaction from Helena. I struggled to continue reading the book after this point.
Fortunately, I did struggle through and started to enjoy the story again, although my enjoyment was still overshadowed by the dislike and frustration I felt towards the main character.
For me, the book did not live up to its promise and this was solely due to the main female character (this is, of course, my subjective view and hopefully other readers will disagree with me!). The story itself would otherwise have been delightful.
I would be willing to try another book by Isabella Brooke in the future as I did like her style of writing in general and I did enjoy the story.
Have you read is book or anything else by Isabella Brooke? I would be interested to hear your opinions.
Ginger Cat x