Book Review: A Tarnished Heart
By: Leslie Dicken
3 Heart Review
She can save him—or bring him to ultimate ruin.
The Earl of Markham’s life is unraveling before his eyes. The harder he tries to pick up the frayed ends, the quicker his carefully guarded control slips from his iron grasp. Five years after the death of his wife, the threat of blackmail hangs over his son’s inheritance.
His only hope to quell the gossip before it begins lies in a headstrong young commoner as wild and free as the English countryside she loves. She is wrong for him in every way. Yet she brings life to his colorless world—and warms his heart with a fire that threatens to shatter the wall around his heart.
Lizzie Parker is content with her garden, her village and caring for her aging father. She wants no part of the glittering London Season, but her father will not be denied his wish to see to her future. Still, she plans to do everything in her power to vex the man charged with taking her away from her beloved home. The man who once broke her heart. Markham.
She never expected his kisses to tame her resistance. With each touch he rouses her senses, until suddenly she’s not at all sure where she belongs...
I'm a big fan of Leslie Dicken and truly believe that she's an under the radar author that more readers of historical romance should check out. Her book Beauty Tempts the Beast was one of my top books of 2010 and a 5 Heart Review here at Cheeky Reads. Seriously, you are missing out if you haven't read it yet.
All of that leads me to point out that my expectations for Leslie's latest book were very high and I do think that's part of the reason why I gave A Tarnished Heart 3 Hearts. Beauty Tempts The Beast is a hard act to follow! In fact, I finished reading this book weeks ago and was having the hardest time trying to figure out exactly what it was that it was missing for me.
It's not that A Tarnished Heart isn't a great story - it is. I loved how strong-willed the heroine was and how willing she is to do anything to stay with her father and take care of him. She's also a smart, tough lady who is willing to fight for her freedom even if it jeopardizes her own reputation and potential future.
One thing I felt was missing for me was for the villains in this tale to get theirs. Lady Fallston and the man who helps her (name withheld to avoid spoilers) needed to have something bad happen to them or at least for the reader to feel like they had to pay for their transgressions. I'm a big fan of making sure that the people who have caused harm pay for it. This was a problem I had with Jennifer Haymore's A Touch of Scandal. The ending with the mother really threw me out of that story and kept it from being a 5 Heart Review for me. I had the same issue with A Tarnished Heart.
**Both of the following plot points are revealed very early in the story so I didn't feel that they counted as spoilers, but wanted to warn you before reading on.**
The other thing that stuck out to me as not quite feeling right to the story was Lizzie's blaming of Markham for her sister's death and how badly she took his reaction to her declaration of future marriage. The blame for the death seemed off and there is an answer to that later, but it took me out of the story every time it was mentioned. As for the declaration of love, all I could think was that she was still a child and no man in his right mind would have reacted positively to that. Let alone a random child coming upon a carriage on a country road and declaring this to the man inside.
What I did really enjoy was the romance between Lizzie and Markham and the sexual tension between them, which I think Leslie writes so well. Both characters were strong and you really wanted them to come to their senses and love each other. It's a solid romance story with two characters you will enjoy and cheer for. The only major thing this book suffers from is not being Beauty Tempts the Beast, which I've said before was one of my favorite books of 2009 and maybe even of the past 3-5 years.
If you haven't read Leslie, please check out her books. I sing her praises on twitter all the time for good reason! Have you read Beauty Tempts the Beast or A Tarnished Heart? If so, what did you think?