I loved this book! It's one of those books where the more I think about it, the more I love it: the hero and heroine, the story, the tone, how everything is dealt with. I could go on AT LENGTH, so I'll just make a short list of two of my favorite things:
1. I love the hero and heroine. Normally part of the
wish-fulfillment fantasy of a romance for me (as a reader AND a writer) is imagining myself as a more heroic and dramatic PERSON, if that makes sense--like, "What if I were as fabulous as this heroine?" But I just felt like I could BE Elizabeth. So I got to directly experience the fantasy of "What if I, myself, were in this exciting situation?" Because I loved both of them to death but there was nothing "heroic" about their flaws. (Or maybe that's WHY I loved them so much!) Jack was just a guy who was insecure and afraid of confrontation and one time he said mean things about his wife behind her back. And Elizabeth was a good, competent person with a tendency towards self-righteous stubbornness. And it was AWESOME.
2. It's hard to resist the temptation to make the Duchess of
Richmond's ball (the big party thrown on the eve of Waterloo and attended by Wellington and many of his senior staff) as a metaphor for something: a last hurrah, an unforgiveable inability to take danger seriously, the British aristocracy's stiff upper lip, whatever. One thing I loved about this author's take was that the ball just felt the way it must have to the people there: a kind of weird event that you weren't sure how you were supposed to react to. In the whole Waterloo section I feel like she really captured how difficult it is for someone in the middle of a huge event to wrap their mind around HOW huge it is and how much it's really affecting them.
Sidenote: Infidelity is a huge squick for me, but the author handled it in a way where it didn't bother me at all (or at least, it bothered me that the hero did that, but the STORY didn't bother me--like I didn't see the hero as an arrogant jerk who got away with cheating, as I sometimes do. And I felt like the aftermath was dealt with perfectly.)