ARC Review: “Book of Love,” by Erin Satie

Happy Tuesday, all! I am thoroughly wiped out, but man am I behind on my ARCs. And it is a crying shame, because Book of Love was a little gem of an historical romance. Not all my cup of tea, but light, fun, and a hint of sexy. So without further ado…


From the Publisher:

She’s trying to make ends meet. He’s out for a bit of fun.

Cordelia is busy, focused, worried about the future of her fledgling bookbinding business. When a handsome man stops her on the street to pester her with questions, she gives him the consideration he deserves: none.

That handsome man happens to be the Duke of Stroud, and he finds Cordelia’s hostility hilarious. He gives chase, if only for the pleasure of provoking her again.

He thinks life is a game. She doesn’t play around.

Within days of meeting Cordelia, Stroud sets a marching band on a matchmaking mama, defaces a local monument, and ropes Cordelia into a round of his favorite game.

In that same time, Cordelia stitches together the complete works of Mary Wollstonecraft, enthusiastically devotes herself to a petition demanding expanded legal rights for married women, and beats Stroud at his own game.

She defies all expectations. So does he.

Most people dismiss Stroud as a fool—himself included. When Cordelia sees past his lighthearted facade, he’s terrified and also… in love?

Stroud barges into Cordelia’s life, offering her all the material and sensual temptations she’s learned to do without. She usually has willpower to spare, but turning him down takes all of it, and then some. He’s oddly irresistible.

Or maybe they’re perfect for one another.


What I Loved:

  • The Bookbinding. What led me to requesting Book of Love is also what kept my interest: Cordelia makes books for a living, back when books were made to order and illustrations done by hand. While Cordelia has to bind books to make a living, it is also a passion for her, and she makes what could very well be the first scrapbook. I loved all of the details of her process and her business, and love watching how she then uses her bookbinding skills to fight for women’s rights.
  • The Duke of Stroud. Cordelia I can take or leave (see below), but I simple loved Stroud. He was this big sweet goofball who wanted to bring joy in his friends’ hearts and who was constantly put down as a child. I loved how Stroud found happiness in someone who recognized his worth despite the years of emotional abuse, and his pranks make me wish I had a Stroud in my life.
  • The Politicking. I feel like historical romances are often fluff, which I truly do love. However, Book of Love provided an exciting surprise with Cordelia joining the women’s rights movement in mid-19th century London. The way Satie incorporates women’s right to their own property after marriage, and watching Cordelia and Stroud get the 1800s version of a pre-nup made Book of Love more fun than a normal historical romance.

What Didn’t Work For Me:

  • Cordelia. While I love so many things about Cordelia’s life (I love her work, her dedication to the women’s rights movement, her origin story, and her friends), I can’t help but be exasperated by her. She is not just outspoken but rude and is a bit of a know it all (takes one to know one… I have been accused of that as well). Cordelia accepts Stroud’s proposal as though it were a pragmatic decision instead of one borne from love, even in the company of her closest friends. I wish she’d been honest with herself in the very beginning.
  • The Pacing. In a bit of a reversal from my normal complaint, I thought that Book of Love is perfectly paced in the beginning and then rushes into the last quarter like a bat out of hell. I am a bit of a cliché reader and love when the marriage ends the book, but didn’t hate that Stroud and Cordelia got married early – I just wish it didn’t change the entire pace of the book. Too much character development occurred from that one moment on.
  • The Sex. This seems like an unpopular opinion compared to other reviews, but I didn’t like the way Satie wrote the intimate scenes between Stroud and Cordelia. They were awkward and uncomfortable – it reminded me of a YA when two teenagers are first exploring each other. While there is a time and a place for that kind of scene, a historical romance is not one of them for me. This is my first Satie, so that may be the problem.

Conclusion:

While Book of Love wasn’t quite what I was looking for, I thought that Satie’s characters really shone, as well as a rich historical context I haven’t seen often in many historical romance novels. Three waves! I would highly recommend for historical romance readers and readers who love seeing strong bonds of friendship between women, but maybe not for the bodice ripping seekers. While you don’t have to read book one, I would encourage it as someone who didn’t get the chance to. Get your copy of book one, Bed of Flowers here at Bookshop, and get your copy of Book of Love as a Nook book or e-book (only $4.99 on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!)

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