Tilby, Lincolnshire, 1811. Miss Sophia Landon is the daughter of an impoverished clergyman. Her father’s health is failing fast, but who wants to marry a woman without birth, beauty or wealth? Her prospects are limited indeed – until her friendship with the town’s fae denizens earns her passage to the otherworldly realm of Aylfenhame. Could her fate truly lie beyond the shores of England?
There she meets Aubranael, a young man with a warm heart and a ruined face. In Sophy he sees the answer to his loneliness, but how can a disfigured Ayliri hope to win her heart? When a mysterious witch offers him the temporary gift of beauty, he eagerly accepts: and so begins an adventure that could change his life, and Sophy’s, forever.
I very much enjoyed the premise of Miss Landon and Aubranael. The world is so whimsical and fun that I wanted to spend more time in it. Trolls under bridges, brownies in every household helping with chores and gateways into a fairy realm unsuspecting humans slip through. That alone makes me consider continuing this series.
Unfortunately the romance fell flat for me. I liked Sophy as a character but I found Aubranael just plain selfish. He starts off charming and likeable but soon makes nothing but self motivated decisions that really have nothing to do with Sophy or his professed love for her. I kept waiting for him to make a turn and redeem himself but it never seemed to happen.
For a book aimed at being a regency romance mixed with a fairy tale I wanted to be rooting for the leads to fall in love and be together. Instead I kept thinking Sophy should hold out for something better or at least demand Aubranael treat her as she deserved.
This book also does a bit of a switcheroo. It starts as a fairly typical regency era romance, with the exception of fairy tale elements. But it takes an abrupt turn into fantasy adventure half way through and it kind of gave me whiplash.
I like both of those genres individually but I felt they were not blended very smoothly in this book. The first half is slow and I was aggravated most of the time with Aubranael and his selfishness. Then the adventure kicks in, complete with a cursed princess and fallen kingdom, and Aubranael still manages to not redeem himself. Ugh!
I don’t know. The supporting characters were great and the next book focuses more on some of them so I might give it a go. This one was disappointing.