Sunday, October 07, 2012

Week-End's Minis XXVII: Starlight by Carrie Lofty

Starlight by Carrie Lofty
published by Simon & Schuster (Pocket) in June 2012
An esteemed astronomer, Alex Christie, the eldest and most steadfast of the Christie siblings, has never possessed his late father’s ruthless business drive. But to protect his frail infant son from his cruel father-in-law’s bid for custody, the young widower must undertake Sir William Christie’s posthumous million-dollar challenge: to make a Glasgow cotton mill profitable. At sea in an industrial world of sabotage and union agitation, Alex meets Polly Gowan, daughter of a famed union leader, who hopes to seize a mysterious saboteur without involving the police. Because a sympathetic mill master would aid her cause, Polly becomes Alex’s guide to urban Scotland. From soccer games to pub brawls, Alex sees another side of life, and feels free for the first time to reveal the man—vital and strong—behind his intellectual exterior. Polly is utterly seduced. Their ambitions, however, remain at odds: Alex vows to earn the mill bonus to save his child, while Polly fights for the needs of her people. Is there strength enough in their sparkling passion to bind them together in their quests— and in a lasting love that conquers all?
Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Christies, Book #2

What do you need to know? Well the story goes pretty much as the blurb says. Alexander Christie is content with his position as an astronomy professor at the university and doesn't care whether he inherits his father's fortune or not. That is until his father-in-law - a sick, cruel and sick man - makes a move to gain custody of Edmund, Alex' frail baby son. Alex married his wife, Mamie, so she could escape her father's abuse and perversion and there's no way he'll let his son fall into the man's clutches. That means he'll do anything, even travel to Scotland, learn the business and make the Glasgow cotton mill profitable in order to gain his inheritance. However, this story happens at a time when the industrial world is in turmoil with the unions... and that means standing in Alex' way is Polly Gowan, daughter of a famed union leader and his successor.

Why this book? I read and enjoyed the first book in this series, Flawless. Also, the author is Ms Lofty :) She has a reputation for writing different historical romances and that's why I've been wanting to read more of her books.

What did I like? Okay, so this book really didn't work out for me and you'll find out why in a few seconds. However, two thumbs up to Ms Lofty for the risk she took, the solid writing, the research done and the complex characters.

What didn't work? It's very ironic because above, I mentioned I wanted to read more of Ms Lofty's books because her historical romances are different, mainly thanks to the settings and time periods Ms Lofty chooses. However, in the case of Starlight, those elements really didn't work out for me ^_^; I like my historical romances more on the light and fun, fluffy side and Starlight was too dark and gritty for my taste. I really didn't like the whole union aspect of the book, how those workers are suppressed and taken advantage of and how union leaders like Polly are framed, etc. It's just not something I enjoyed reading and unfortunately for me, it was a huge part of the book ^_^;

As for the romance, it also didn't work for me. Basically, it's the same complaint that I've had for many other romance books recently: the H/H got together too fast. It's another case of instant attraction and lust as soon as they meet and quickly leads to marriage. Given Alex and Polly's respective positions,  I actually expected a lot more obstacles to their relationship. In addition, given Alex' situation, I expected his character to be a lot more reserved. I admire how he wanted to learn the business and how he wanted to be fair and hear both sides of the story, but I admit, I was surprised at how easily he mingled with the workers. So that's why I just didn't believe in this instant connection between Alex and Polly. Perhaps if there's been a slower development to their relationship or less of the union politics aspect, it would have felt more believable... But as it is, the romance felt off to me. The chemistry was there, but from their interactions, they needed more time. I also thought that Alex' marriage to Mamie was a sappy story and served as an convenient excuse for readers and perhaps even Alex to accept he has fallen in love so soon after the death of his wife. Like how Alex loved and cared for Mamie... but more as a friend than as a lover. Then he meets Polly and discovers passion. And finally, I didn't really like the circumstances under which Polly and Alex married ^_^;

My Grade? D. I did not enjoy Starlight, but the reasons have more to do with personal tastes than execution. As such, I will definitively give the next book in this series a try.