I was over the moon excited to read A.G. Howard’s new NA historical novel. I am thrilled that I was given an arc of this beautiful story.
Juliet is a young woman who became deaf after being sick as a child. She has learned to read lips so nobody could know that she is deaf unless they are told. When the story opens, we meet Juliet, our protagonist, grieving for the recent death of her mother. While at the cemetery, Juliet meets a strange young man after touching a strange and beautiful flower in front of a tombstone that has caught her attention. The young man, no more than a whisp of air, turns out to Hawk. Hawk does not know how he died, where he came from, or anything from his past (at first) but knows that when Juliet touched the pedals of the flower, his spirit forms. He and Juliet are able to communicate – Juliet can actually hear him. She is able to hear him in her head and know what he is saying without reading his lips. Things suddenly change for Juliet and her household when Lord Thornton decides he wants to buy Juliet’s house. He ends up making her an offer that she simply cannot refuse, even though she has tried. Juliet, along with her entire household, travel to Lord Thornton’s large estate that he is turning into an extravagent vacation destination for the wealthy. There, Juliet and her father will run their family business – she will make hats and her father will dye fabrics. All the while, Juliet and Hawk will uncover what really happened to him and solve the mystery of his death. What they did not expect to find is something that will change everyone’s lives forever.
The connection between Juliet and Hawk is one of a forbidden romance. This story is set in a time where girls/women are married young, and only with approval of the parents. If men want to court a female, they must have parents approval and they must be watched at all times. That makes things difficult for Juliet as she quickly developed feelings for Hawk, but with him being a ghost things cannot exactly end well. It was very sweet to see their feelings grow and become something more. I really did cheer for the both of them until Lord Thornton came into the picture and it turned into a love triangle. That was when you were reminded how young Juliet was. She wanted both and at the same time did not want to hurt either. There are a lot of swoony moments throughout the entire story, but the dreaded “love triangle” made things a little frustrating.
The mystery element in this story was really good. The entire time, the read is trying to figure out 1) who Hawk is; 2) who Lord Thornton truly is; 3) how did Hawk die; 4) and who will Juliet end up with?! Howard puts so many twists and turns into the story that it makes it rather difficult to figure anything out until the end. That’s not to say I didn’t have a few issues with the story. I didn’t like how neatly everything was wrapped up at the end. This is the first book in a new series but with the way this book ended, I cannot figure out how there is another book. The ending did feel a little rushed and just too clean. That leads me to the pacing. I had some problems with the pacing of this book. There were times when more detail was given to the time period and what was proper of a young lady. I get that is important to the tone of the book, but it felt like a little too much. Things would randomly speed up and then slow down, then speed up and slow down. I found myself skimming over descriptive paragraphs.
Please don’t think I’m writing a bad review – I am not. I really did enjoy this book. I found myself interested in what was going on. I wanted to know who Juliet ended up with and what happened to Hawk. The writing is absolutely beautiful and I’m so thankful I was able to read this story. I cannot wait to read how the rest of the series plays out. If you are looking for a love story with romance, ghosts, mysteries, murder, and so many secrets – this is the story for you!