Blacksmiths are generally among my favorite heroes. They’re so earthy and strong, usually men of few words whose charms take time to make themselves known. If there is a blacksmith in the story, I’m likely unable to turn it down. Hal, the blacksmith in this story hits all the points –plus he’s a bastard. And while I liked the book for those reasons, there were others which made it a mixed bag.
Our heroine, Joanna, thought she was going marry Hal’s brother, Sir Roger. He is a knight… beautiful, charming, and exciting. He’s been showing her attention for the past three years whenever he comes to town, but now he is finally making it clear that they have no future. As a ward of her uncle, Joanna is reaching the end of his charity. He is ready for her to take a husband –any husband– and when Hal shows up looking to join the guild he helps run, Joanna’s uncle sees an opportunity to trade his niece for his favor helping Hal in his profession. Joanna has little choice but to accept.
Hal’s not a bad guy. He doesn’t want to use Joanna. And he’s horrified by the way his brother led her on. But he figures he can save her from any worse options while attending to his own future. Plus he likes her well enough. The thing is, Joanna is in love with his brother. Granted, as readers, we can see how shallow and childish that love is. But it is there all the same –and Hal is upset by it as he begins his marriage with his new wife.
It’s this dynamic that is the worst part of the book. It reflects poorly on both characters. Joanna, because it shows how naive and silly she is, mooning over a man she barely knows and clearly never cared for her. Hal, because he knew her feelings going into their marriage. Foolish as she is, Joanna was never anything but honest about her broken heart. Basically, she acts like a child, and he acts like a sulking bear with a thorn in his paw.
There are good moments too, mostly in those times in which the characters can see past their own issues to appreciate one another. I liked that once Joanna really started to fall for Hal, she was able to put her childhood fantasies aside. But these two could have been happier much sooner with just a little well placed communication. Pride, secrets, and mistrust led to unnecessary drama for two people who I could see belonged together, way before they did.
Overall, it was an ok story. The blacksmith part helped, but it rarely ventured beyond the superficial on the emotional side. I didn’t feel deeply for the romance, but it was a quick read and it gave me the happy ending I was looking for.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
The Blacksmith’s Wife
by Elisabeth Hobbes
Release Date: April 19, 2016