I feel I should start out saying two things. One: many people loved this book. It has a ton of 5-star ratings on Goodreads. Two: I wanted to be one of those people. I really liked the premise. But in the end, there were just too many things that did not work for me.
As the story begins, Lady Eleanor is being forced to marry her father’s enemy to make peace. That means she must journey to the Welsh castle of Bryn Du to make a life, with nothing and no one familiar. The only things she knows about her betrothed, Brac Goch, are what she’s learned from her father: that he is ruthless and cunning and that she is to be his second wife. She doesn’t want to leave her English life or Gil, the man she had hoped to marry, but she is given no choice.
Right away, it’s clear to the reader that Brac is not what Eleanor thinks he is. He treats her with kindness and patience. But she can’t see beyond her own circumstances. The entire book is set in her point of view and I know we’re supposed to sympathize with her, but she is so clearly naive and really just… unkind to Brac. It’s hard to get on board with a romance where I don’t like the heroine.
Another big thing that detracted from the story was the supernatural element. Don’t get me wrong, I love paranormal books, but the ghostly and witchy parts of this story felt out of place. There is a real ghost wreaking havoc on Eleanor and we just have to accept that –and the fact that the ghost was a witch– at face value. Also, all of the herbal talk about what wards away evil and such is supposed to be real, while I just kept reading it as old fashioned superstitions. I think I would have liked the book better without this thread entirely.
To call the romance a slow burn would be an understatement. That insinuates that we actually get some satisfaction if we wait long enough. I don’t find any satisfaction in waiting until the last chapter for the hero and heroine to get together. I’m not talking about the HEA. I am talking about a kiss or even so much as an acknowledgement that they want each other. Too little, way too late. The book mostly consists of Eleanor being miserable and wishing she was back home. And the ghost. And an unsurprising twist about who the true villains in the tale really are.
I know I am in the minority, but this just was not for me. Maybe you’ll like it more.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
Eleanor and the Iron King
by Julie Daines
Release Date: August 1, 2015
Publisher: Covenant Communications