the pleasure of the rose is marketed as a western meets the highlands. and while i suppose it is a western meets the highlands in some ways, in that the male lead is half-comanche, in the end it's mostly just a highlands story. and that's totally fine, except it's not even an interesting highlands story. i just ended up feeling like the author kept setting us up for something to happen, and then nothing would.
there is no real conflict here. that's the novel's biggest problem. there are all these interesting characters who have depths that we don't get to explore. fletcher is an interesting character who basically disappears from the book mid-way through. the story of how a half-comanche becomes a duke and settles into his ancestral home should be something compelling. exploring the likely racism and distrust that he would have faced if this was not fiction would have been interesting. and while certainly there is racist language used, there is no real action in the novel that would show that taking control of the dukedom was a difficult thing for fletcher to do.
rosalyn, the female lead is marginally more interesting, but she also loses her fire halfway through the novel. and instead of exploring how her relationship with fletcher deepens over time, it's like the one time they have sex after they are married all is golden between them. their contentment doesn't feel earned and there is still like one third of the novel to go. this is the first of a series, and i'm guessing that fletcher's siblings will round out the remaining novels. and while i did actually like all the characters, i just don't think i could sit through another three books if they all have as many words as this one with so little happening.
**the pleasure of the rose will publish on august 23, 2016. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/diversion books in exchange for my honest review.