Rating: 2/5 Stars
I really wanted to like this book. The premise of the romance was promising: a woman driven to hide herself from the world under a veil, a male doctor sent in to get her eating again, their romance, and an ex-lover with murder on his mind.
It sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, The Lass Wore Black just left me constantly wanting more or disappointed. It’s a romance, so it’s meant to allow for suspension of belief and escapism, but even then, I was unsatisfied. Some of the reasons are nitpicky, like the absolutely impossible suggestion that while in a carriage accident, Catriona (the woman in the veil) gasped in pain every time a shard of glass sliced her skin. That would be dozens of times within a couple seconds, and that’s just not happening.
Another thing is the way Ranney included ways of speaking that were ‘appropriate’ for the time, meaning more delicate about sexual matters and more set into gender roles and sexism. I’m not faulting her for that. However, the way it was incorporated was inconsistent and sometimes contradictory.
For instance, the doctor seems to equate Catriona, who went through trauma and is scarred/permanently injured from it, with wealthy old women that are clearly hypochondriacs. He goes from understanding and compassionate to irritated too easily and with little provocation.
By the end of the novel, I still wasn’t invested in the couple. Their big climactic moments, like sex for the first time and her removing her veil, are…anti-climactic. They’re over too soon or just feel strange. He gets described as kissing ‘like a demon’, and he keeps smiling and twinkling a lot at inappropriate moments. Catriona, although not dorky smiling all over the place, is really prideful, which makes her stubborn sometimes but bratty the next. Most of the relationship seems forced.
Even the villain of the tale, the ex-lover with murder on his mind, makes me cringe. He’s tried to kill Catriona multiple times and seems quite intent on doing it. But he waits for months while determining the right time and place, and then for some reason thinks the right time and place is the carriage house a couple days after she was seen there one time because even though she’s being watched all the time, that one-time trek into the carriage house means it’s time to set it on fire.
And then, after trying to stay secret and plotting murder while doing nothing else, he ends up trying to kill her in the middle of a crowded street and getting caught because of course.
Except wait…what? What villain that’s been plotting for months thinks that’s the best course of action?
Also, as far as I can tell, the cover doesn’t have anything to do with the book at all.
The redeeming qualities of this novel were the secondary characters. None were particularly thoroughly fleshed out, but they were more intriguing and worked better with the main characters than the main characters did with each other.
I find that unfortunate. The plot had so much hope, but it just fell short. Not something bad to read to pass time in an airport or something, but for serious enjoyment, I wouldn’t suggest it.
I would say, however, that on Goodreads the book has a 3.71/5 rating as of the end of March 2017, so some people really liked it.
I am not one of those people.
Your Bonnie Celtophile,