Review: Waltz with a Stranger by Pamela Sherwood

Waltz with a Stranger by Pamela Sherwood
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Pages: 448
Source: Publisher

“May I have this dance?”

Aurelia wasn’t hiding exactly. She just needed to get out of the crush of the ballroom—away from the people staring at her scar, pitying her limp. She was still quite enjoying the music from the conservatory. And then a complete stranger—dashing, debonair, kind—asked her to waltz. In the strength of his arms, she felt she could do anything. But both would be leaving London soon…

When they meet again a year later, everything has changed. She’s no longer a timid mouse. And he’s now a titled gentleman—with a fiancée. Is the magic of one stolen moment, one undeniable connection enough to overcome a scandal that would set Society ablaze and tear their families apart?

 

Review:  I was absolutely impressed by Ms Sherwood’s debut novel, Waltz with a Stranger.  From the romance to the mystery to the setting, it had everything I enjoy in a historical romance.  Yes, there were a couple bumps along the way, but I can’t wait to see what Ms Sherwood has up her sleeve for her next novel.

I love when one of the main characters is disabled in some way.  In this book, it’s the heroine, Aurelia, who was injured in a riding accident that left her with a scar on her face and a noticeable limp. The book starts out at a ball where Aurelia is hiding out because of her “disfigurement” and ends up dancing a secret waltz with a stranger.  Immediately afterward, she goes off to France to heal and blossom as she seems to have found reason to live again. Of course, as soon as she returns to London, things get interesting.

And then we have our hero James.  At the time of the dance, he’s just a simple mister who is only at the ball due to family obligations.  But when he next meets Aurelia, he’s an Earl and engaged to her twin sister, Amy.  Oh, what a tangle!  Then we add in a mystery surrounding the death of the previous earl (and James’ cousin) and there’s a whole lot of story going on.

I loved Aurelia.  She was devoted to her sister and was ready to put aside her growing affection for James to not break Amy’s heart.  And she overcame physical obstacles in her way while being so likeable.  It was interesting to see Aurelia interact with her twin.  They were complete opposites, but dearly loved each other and that made this whole love triangle touching.  Aurelia is also smart and I enjoyed watching her help James solve the mystery of his cousin’s death.

On the other hand there is James.  For me, he’s the weaker link.  In some ways, he’s almost too good to be true.  You know the type, good with animals, never yells (even at the horrible relations descending on his home) and willing to pass up true love to honor a commitment.  But he also seems a little dense at times.  I often found myself shaking my head that Aurelia did more of the problem solving than James did.  I mean, it’s possible.  I just tend to prefer my heroes to be more alpha, even when there is a strong heroine involved.

I think the one big complaint for me in this book is that there is a lot going on.  Besides the romance and the mystery, there is a secondary romance of sorts involving Amy.  And there are a lot of characters introduced.  They just kept coming and often times I found myself having to stop to figure out who was who and how they worked into the story.  I will admit that I didn’t completely see the solution to the mystery, so in that aspect I was happy.

This was a page turner for me and with a few tweaks, I think it could have been a five star read.  With great character development and a solid plot with some twists and turns… well, I congratulate Ms Sherwood on a great debut and highly recommend this read.