Novella Review: Nightingale by Cathy Maxwell

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I am of two minds about Nightingale.  I enjoyed this novella, but I would have enjoyed it better if I liked the heroine a little more. While I was finally able to cut her some slack, most of her misery is of her own making, and while past events are always viewed with 20/20 vision, it’s that murky, uncertain future that needs a lot of trust and faith that things will work out for the best.  They didn’t for Jemma, and instead of a spoiled, willful girl, she’s now a desperate, improvised woman.  Manipulated by her parents since birth, and now willing to trade her soul to save her brother from his own folly, she is forced to turn to the man she rejected years ago with a plea to allow her brother to live.

Now, while I had some issues with Jemma, I loved Dane.  He is dark and broody, still smarting after losing the love of his life.  While he can look back on their childish promises with clearer head, he still aches for what he can’t have.  After Jemma married another man without a word to him when he was away at school, Dane was a shattered soul.  To finally seek some peace for himself, he sets off to make his fortune and to try to forget about the woman who rejected him for a title and all the wealth that accompanied it.  Dane does find his fortune, as well as adventure aplenty, but a part of himself that still belongs to Jemma continues to long for what might have been.

Imagine his twisted emotions when Jemma’s brother challenges him to a duel.  With his pride at stake, Dane accepts the challenge.  If he’s honest with himself, he would even admit that he pushed and prodded so that the insult was given and the duel would be proposed.  What better way to get back at the woman who broke his heart, but to break her heart in return?

I wish the story had been longer, because there is so much angst and so many feelings for both Jemma and Dane to work through.   Jemma realizes that she made a mistake, and after suffering through a loveless, passionless marriage, she wonders how differently things would have turned out if she hadn’t agreed to marry a older, wealthier man.  She soon found herself with nothing, as her husband was not a competent manager of his fortune, and after his death, his family gave her the cold shoulder.  So it’s with a great deal of trepidation that she approaches Dane with a bargain to save her brother from certain death on the point of Dana’s blade.  Now the tables have turned; Dane is one of the wealthiest men in London, he’s been knighted, and he’s has the respectably he lacked when he was younger. With this one duel, he thinks he will retain his pride and finally put Jemma out of his heart.

If you’re looking for a quick read between Labor Day weekend festivities, Nightingale will keep you entertained for an hour or so.  I just wish it had been a little longing, because I felt that the ending wrapped up to quickly, and left me a little nervous about a forever HEA for Dane and Jemma.

Grade:  B / B-

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Fate has brought them together—again.

At one time, Jemma meant the world to Dane Pendleton, but then she betrayed their young love.

Now Time has turned the tables. Dane is wealthy, respected, and knighted, while Jemma has nothing but her pride.

His honor for hers …

Dane’s name is on the lips of every beauty in London. They whisper that he learned “tricks” while he was in the Orient. But has he forgotten Jemma and what they once meant to each other?

And will he accept her devil’s bargain?

In every woman’s life, there is that one flame who slipped away. The man who makes her wonder “what if?”

But is this a momentary madness or a chance to rekindle a love that could last a lifetime?