Review: Barbarous by Minerva Spencer

Reviewed by Jen

I will start by saying this book has really really good reviews on Goodreads. And I didn’t dislike it, but the sheer number of five star ratings has me wondering if I read the same book as everyone else.

I was excited about picking this up, despite the title which reminded me of a 1980’s bodice ripper. After all, the hero was scarred, with a delicious piratical eyepatch. I love a scarred hero. But Hugh wasn’t what I expected. This man was enslaved, tortured, and disfigured, but there was virtually no angst to be found.

As the story begins, Daphne is fighting off the lecherous advances of the man who raped her years ago. Her elderly husband is dead and there is no one to protect her now that Malcolm is after her fortune. And if she isn’t willing to cooperate, he’ll tell the world he’s the father of her children. It’s just as she fights back that her late husband’s nephew shows up. Everyone thought Hugh was dead, and he’s only returned due to a threat on Daphne’s life.

Hugh and Daphne are immediately attracted to each other. However, he considers her off-limits because he thinks she slept with his very old uncle. (She didn’t.) And she thinks he’s off limits because her son has the title that’s rightfully Hugh’s. They flirt a little. Hugh gets sick. They flirt a bit more and then they’re in love.

Here are my complaints. I didn’t really feel the love happening. The sexual attraction, sure, but love? Not so much. As I mentioned, there is a wealth of missed opportunity to explore what happened to Hugh. There’s a revenge plot involving the guy who sold him out, but I wanted some teeth gnashing over Hugh’s appearance. Some self-worth issues about what happened to him during slavery. I got nothing. I thought Malcolm was way too one-note as a villain and Calitain wasn’t explored nearly enough. And the answers over who wrote the letters and who cut the girth on the saddle… both, weak.

As for Daphne, she’s fine, I guess. She spends a lot of time telling herself she is going to come clean to Hugh, but never quite gets around to it. And when the reveal does happen, it’s quite underwhelming. Actually, I think that underwhelming kind of fits my feelings about the book in general.  It wasn’t bad, but for sure, it did not live up to my expectations.

For what it’s worth, this is book two in the Outcasts series, and I understand the events happen simultaneously with book one, but this holds up just fine as a standalone. Maybe it would be a bigger hit for you.

Rating: C

*ARC provided by publisher

Click to purchase: Amazon

Barbarous
by Minerva Spencer
Release Date: October 30, 2018
Publisher: Zebra

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