Ned Carhart left his wife Kate a mere three months after their marriage to go to China at the behest of his cousin to check out what was going on with the British and the Opium situation and to find himself. At the point of their marriage Ned considers himself something of a useless fribble with no responsibilities.
Kate is stunned and bereft.
Fast forward three years later and a lot has changed. Kate rescues women who are victims of domestic abuse and helps them to leave their husbands and relocate. Ned is back, strong in body and and somewhat stronger in mind, ready to take on the responsibilities of both a husband and as the heir presumptive of a Marquisate.
The two find their way back to each other. Ned still dealing with his demons while Kate is helping her riskiest 'rescue' yet, a wealthy lady of the ton
whose powerful husband is relentless about getting her back.
This is only my second Courtney Milan book after the novella Unlocked and I must say I did not enjoy this one as much as I did that one.
There are three main things happening here: First, is the plot with Kate hiding her friend Louisa from her blatantly misogynistic husband the Earl of Harcroft; Second is the repairing of the sundered marriage of Kate and Ned; And third are the personal demons that Ned fights each day, which can clearly be seen as some form of Bipolarism or at the very least chronic depression (or maybe just a really extreme case of Seasonal Affective Disorder). This being the 19th century, of course, there is no diagnosis nor drugs for it, so Ned has to deal the best he can.
My problem is that of the three elements of the book, I only truly enjoyed the first. The plot to save Louisa from her husband was really exciting to read. But unfortunately that is not enough to carry the entire book that is supposed to be a romance novel.
The second element of the book -- the reparation of the marriage -- is continually derailed by the third element of the book, Ned's state of mind. The thing is, Ned's inner (and outer) dialogue about his 'winter of bleakness' feelings that sometimes come over him consumed the book and not in a good way, imo. Kate kept trying so hard to connect with him and he obfuscated. It was maddening to read. He was so emo! I couldn't take it after awhile.
Toward the end, I found myself skimming to read the parts that involved Louisa and her dastardly husband. Kate and Ned had lost me by that point.
So not a winner for me at all.