Neal Chattan, Lord Lyon, is cursed. Centuries ago, his ancestor promised to marry a girl, Rose, then reneged on the promise and the girl committed suicide. As punishment for this crime, the Rose’s mother cursed his family. Whenever a Chattan male falls in love, he dies. Every member of his father’s family has succumbed to this curse and he is determined to never fall prey to it, but he desperately wants kids. Enter Thea Martin, a matchmaker. She is hired to find Chattan a bride that he could never love, but when she sees its Neal she’s to work for, she promptly refuses. Neal had been a childhood friend who walked out on her with no warning. Thea quickly realizes that she has no other choice than to help him because there aren’t many options for respectable work for a widow and her sons must be provided for. She starts the hunt for a respectable bride for Neal and, as you can imagine, the two grow closer. But is Neal willing to risk his life for the possibility of love with Thea?
I really am at a loss for words with this novel. I generally try to keep my historical romances and my paranormal romances separate, so I’m not overly excited about the idea of a mythical curse, but since I’ve read HR with a bit of magic before, I thought why the hell not? I have always loved Cathy Maxwell’s work in the past so this shouldn’t be any different. I was somewhat right. The storyline drew me in pretty quickly, though not the witchy parts. What got me was the childhood friends who were separated and are now reunited. I usually hate drama, but I love the confrontation that comes from childhood separations that leave one or both parties confused. Thea’s back-story especially captivated me because I also love heroines who rebel against their families and she definitely did that when she married far below herself. Even Neal was a sweet and interesting character who’s instantly adoration for Thea’s sons had me falling head over heels.
But I just couldn’t love this novel. Neal jumps too quickly over the fence on the whole “I can’t fall in love or I’ll die” argument. One minute he’s terrified of it and the next he’s throwing caution to the wind and marrying Thea. The romance bits felt a bit rushed. Then there is the cliffhanger.
I have never in my entire goddamn life read a historical romance with a cliffhanger and I can’t say that this came as a pleasant surprise. I spent my entire high school career hiding romance novels in my text books so I could read during class and never once did I stumble upon a fucking cliffhanger, NEVER. Neal and Thea’s story has a sort of ending, but the curse is still looming over Neal’s head so nothing was really solved. This novel definitely would have gotten 4 stars if not for that ending, but I can’t fucking overlook that or forget my complete disappointment. Do I recommend it to historical romance fans? Absolutely, just prepare yourself for the fact that it’s not going to be tied into a nice little bow for you at the end and you’ll need the next two books on hand so you can find out exactly what happens next.