This author is becoming a fast favorite of mine. Her romances are warm and gentle and not at all the lurid, steamy somewhat indecent affairs you might find in other novels. (**nothing wrong with smut but it's usually ill conceived and ill timed in most romances**) I start off with saying, I love the Survivor's Club and I can't wait to see the Duke get his HEA. After reading Vince's story with his lady I fell in love with the stuttering Flavian and wanted to know how he became happy again.
I think the author liked him as much as I do. Aside from his brooding thoughts disguised by his lackadaisical expression he was part gentleman, part rake, and all wounded hero. I liked the other characters as well, even the villain, but I felt the plot had more potential aside from incomplete memory loss brought on by war injuries and a hastily wrapped ending.
I absolutely disliked the heroine, Agnes. She had no direction and lacked inspiration. Aside from his obvious attraction to her, he also seemed a bit over-sexed for someone who had paramours on the side. The author never really explains why he is so attracted to her. But I think the author did Agnes a great disservice as well. She had absolutely no charm. No beauty. No talent to recommend her (for which we actually see a follow through). No personality. All I could glean was she was a wallflower with burning passions deep inside but I'm not sure I ever got to see it for myself.
Her back story was interesting and I get that she was repressed and in a loveless marriage before the husband was considerate enough to die on her and make her an eligible woman once more. But aside from all of that I felt like I never really knew who she was. All things HAPPENED to Agnes. Agnes never made anything HAPPEN. Her only saving grace was that she fell in love with Flavian, warts and all.
Though Flavian became her knight in shining armor I couldn't see what Agnes could do for him. Heroes and heroines are often catalysts for one another but there was no reciprocity in this arrangement, which made the relationship disappointingly one sided on his part, and shallow on hers.
Agnes' transformation from country mouse to ton lioness wasn't at all convincing, aside from one single, goaded confrontation with Mrs. March, everyone's favorite toad, and a parlour exchange with the villain. I wanted a showdown! I expected to see more of how the affluence and influence of his clan snubbed the villains while fully embracing her into the fold. I expected the villain to be exposed. I expected Agnes to fully confront the villain and come out bruised but victorious. We don't really know what happens.
In fact, we don't really know if she dared to live up to her title as Flavian's Vicountess after that because the book abruptly ends when Flavian is miraculously cured. The end. Wait, what?
I expected more from Agnes. If the author was going to give her such a horrid name (though if you say it in French it's quite beautiful) she needed to have given her more charm, more wit, more talent, more courage, more originality -- especially if she was going to be paired with a member of the Survivor's Club.