Not by Sight
Bethany House Publishers
Official Backpage Synopsis
With Britain caught up
in WWI, Jack Benningham, heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, has declared
himself a conscientious objector. Instead, he secretly works for the
Crown by tracking down German spies on British soil, his wild reputation
and society status serving as a foolproof cover.
patriotism and concern for her brother on the front lines, wealthy
suffragette Grace Mabry will do whatever it takes to assist her
country's cause. When she sneaks into a posh London masquerade ball to
hand out white feathers of cowardice, she never imagines the chain of
events she'll set off when she hands a feather to Jack.
neither of them could anticipate the extent of the danger and betrayal
that follows them--or the faith they'll need to maintain hope.
My Take in 3 Parts
Unfortunately, I was quite unmoved by the theme, if there was a single identifiable theme apart from romance. Possibly it was the theme of a young woman, Grace, learning that she must go above and beyond mere one time fixes for people and that she needs to guard her tongue more carefully.
In all truth, the plot lagged. A lot. There is action for the first 50 pages or so and then nothing for the following 200 pages apart from Grace learning to bale hay and make friends with women from varying backgrounds and experiences all while either mooning over Jack or yearning to hit him.
It felt like Downton Abbey without actually being Downton Abbey. Even down to a plot line involving Jack that I won't go into here because it would be spoilers. Let's just say that Matthew had a remarkably similar experience in DA.
The theme was truly nothing new, and I found that to be highly disappointing. Where I expected a serious spy drama, that plot element felt thrown in at the last minute. It's bad when I can guess what's going to happen 60 pages before the big reveal actually happens. Which I did, and then it just felt awkward to the story, like trying to force a round peg into a square hole.
I disliked Grace almost from the very first. Settled in her own sense of duty, incapable of looking outside her own take on the circumstances of the people around, she behaves in a highly moralizing, very self-righteous attitude throughout the majority of the book. When she wasn't irritating me, she was boring me.
Jack wasn't quite so bad, but I was never completely sold on him either. It seems his emotional capacity consists of either yearning for Grace, doubting her feelings for him, or doubting his own feelings for her. I desperately need my men to be stronger and more than their mere hang-ups over their "feelings" for the love of their life. Surely men are capable of thinking of something other than women.
The girls in a group known as the Women's Forage Corps who helped with the war effort were the most interesting of everyone, but even their back stories were entirely too diverse to be genuine. You have a girl with a starving family, a girl who was a prostitute, a girl who was impregnated by some lord or other and bore an illegitimate child, and then you have Grace, the suffragette/Christian.
The writing was merely average, almost mediocre. There was only one moment in the entire book that really grabbed me, and then we spent the next 150 pages out in the English countryside baling hay and driving his lordship on outings into the country so we could work on their budding romance. The moment got lost when it could have been superb.
Also, one goof that I blame equally on the editor and on the writer, the heroine of Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera is named Christine, not Christina.
I was expecting a historic spy drama with perhaps a little romance thrown in for atmosphere. After all, the book is touted as being "historical fiction" and not "historical romance" on the back cover. What I got was a clunky romance with just a teensy, weensy bit of spy drama thrown in because they'd promised it on the back cover.
Not by Sight disappointed me, something I always hate to say about any novel. But there it is. I'm sure many readers will love it, but I found it to be one of hundreds of average, ordinary, mediocre Christian historic romances on the market with nothing remarkable to lift it above the rest.
NOTE - I received this book as a
complementary copy from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an
honest review, which I have given.
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