Friday, August 18, 2017

ARC Review: Bliss by Lynsay Sands

Pub. Date:July 25, 2017
Length:384 pages

Bliss is an over-the-top enemies-to-lovers trope in the historical romance arena. I am always happy to pick up a Lynsay Sands historical as they tend to be on the light and fun side, with engaging and entertaining characters.

Hethe Holden, known as the Hammer of Holden, is one of the king's faithful lords. He has served the king in continuous battle for the past decade and has spent very little time at Holden keep. Sadly, Hethe has a reputation for being a cruel overlord, and many people have fled his holding to seek sanctuary with his neighbor. But you will quickly discover that Hethe is an honorable man who has obliviously earned a false reputation. I thought he was a good hero, and I admired his patience despite his self-professed rage problem. When the king orders him to marry his neighbor, the Tyrant of Tiernay, to end their bickering... Hethe was determined to do his duty and obey his king.

Helen Tiernay, the Tyrant of Tiernay, has been responsible for running the Tiernay holdings since the death of her father. She is disgusted and outraged by the cruel treatment doled out by the Hammer of Holden, and she is constantly writing to his majesty to complain and implore that he take action. Unlike Hethe, when Helen learns that the king has ordered them wed, she is determined not to go through with the ridiculous mandate. This sparks a litany of rebellion from Helen wherein she devises and carries out a plot to get Hethe to repudiate the betrothal. I have to say that I didn't like Helen very much. While I understood her outrage and the treatment of Holden serfs, I was disappointed in her continued tormenting of Hethe when his actions were suggesting that Helen's preconceived notions about his character were wrong. 

While I did not find Helen's torments to be funny, when Hethe turned the tables on her and she started getting a taste of her own medicine - I thought it was hilarious. So for a little over half the book you have the two doing battle against one another. But then the last portion of the book focused more on the relationship building, which was a nice change of pace from the constant bickering. As a bonus, we were given an additional plot conflict involving a villainous betrayal by someone close to our main characters. I think this additional plot conflict gave the story some extra oomph and I am glad that it was added in.

Overall, this was a fun and light-hearted story. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as some of Sands' other historicals, but it was entertaining enough to keep me distracted while away at a work conference.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Avon.