Punish Me With Roses by Juliet Moore
Review by C.C. Ballard
What would you do if you woke up one morning to realize you’d inadvertently killed two men?
This is exactly the situation in which Victoria Clavering finds herself. The year is 1836 and the prospects for a woman are low at best, but to be a murderess with dubious family ties puts Victoria in a tight spot. After the death of her parents she is sent to her wealthy cousin’s home where she finds his morals to be the opposite of everything she’s been taught. In an attempt to help those less fortunate than herself, Victoria accidentally kills her cousin and must go into hiding. Fleeing to a distant relative’s home in Cornwall, Victoria’s problems go from bad to worse when she finds only more questions and mysteries about her family and their past, and she begins to fall in love with the man who has been sent to ensure justice is served.
From the first page of this book it’s clear that Juliet Moore has a way with words. The writing is easy and the character of Victoria is brought to life within minutes of her appearance. The setting, the period, and the people all fall into place under the steady pen of Ms. Moore.
While the story is engaging, I will have to admit that there were parts of it I found confusing. The author has a subtle way of description and at times I feel that perhaps she could have been a little more forthright. While I hate reading long passages that seem obvious in their intent to give useful information, it’s equally difficult when the author doesn’t give a clear picture of the scene. Juliet Moore weaves the information into the story in a smart way, but sometimes she is almost too clever. This was my only problem with the book. It was hard to interpret the interactions between the hero and heroine, which are often meant to be a flirty interplay between all the things unsaid. This could be very sexy but I feel the author may have lost some chemistry between Alex and Victoria because of her subtlety. Passion is generally a result of the fact that the hero and heroine have some sort of obstacle that keeps them apart, which in the case of Victoria and Alex, it’s the secrets they each have from the other. In the beginning of the book you can see all Victoria’s fire and indignation in how she reacts to her cousin’s treatment of people. I expected some of that to show up when she was with Alex but she always seems to hold back with him, even when they fight. Still, it’s obvious the two should end up together. Alex is a good guy hero; he’s torn between what he thinks is right and what his heart is telling him even while he’s being pushed into a completely different direction by his family. His treatment of Victoria is tender and loving, while Victoria herself wants to be free of her sins so that she can give her heart to Alex. The unsavory characters in both of their lives try to have their say in what goes on between the two but in the end only love can save Victoria and Alex.
Against a backdrop of family secrets, murder, and a series of events that eventually come together into a satisfying conclusion, the story of Victoria and Alex is that of a sweet love story between two misused people. It was a nice read, although it did have a few spelling and formatting errors. Juliet Moore is a good writer who is obviously knowledgable about the Victorian period. I look forward to reading her future books and recommend this to anyone who likes historical romance with a dash of mystery.