As I had mentioned in a previous post, I had an extremely difficult time getting into The Windflower. It took me two weeks to get past page 150. It never takes me that long to read a book. It was painful. If it weren't for the fact that I was reading the book as part of The Tour, I would have put it down and considered it a DNF. I hate admitting defeat with a book. So I powered through, forcing myself to read despite my determination to hate Merry and Devon.
I am so glad that I did. No, this was not a perfect example of historical romance. Yes, Devon was a big fat jerk. Sure, Merry was TSTL at parts. But I still liked it. I know that it was partly because my expectations were so low. If you expect the book to suck, then you are pleasantly surprised by a halfway decent read. I am aware of this. Yet I still liked it.
Me, pleasantly surprised
Merry is everything I usually can't stand in a heroine: very young, naive, too pretty for her own good, TSTL, unrealistically spunky, and sometimes a bit of a Mary Sue. Yet there is something endearing about her. She brought out the best in those around her (except for Devon, of course.) Cat and Raven became more human for knowing Merry. She never gave up. No matter how many curve balls life threw at her, she kept on surviving. Merry is that girl you want to hate, but just can't.
Devon is an ass. I know that. Hell, it was evident in every one of his actions. In the beginning his treatment of Merry was inexcusable. Later, his intentions were more noble, if misguided. I came to understand why he made his choices, even if I didn't agree with them. Their attraction was clear. From moment one, they were drawn to one another. I bought it. Their love and HEA? Not quite as realistic. Devon didn't give Merry many reasons to fall in love with him. The way he treated her in the beginning would have made anyone (besides an 80's historical romance heroine) punch him in the nose and never speak to his sorry ass again. In some ways Merry's love smacked of teenage puppy love. Devon went from "I desire her, but cannot stand her" to "I love her, but must not sully her" far too abruptly. But again, my expectations were bottom-of-the-ocean low, so I was still pleased with the end result.
If the book had solely been focused on Merry and Devon it would have fallen flat for me. Sweet, annoying, but nothing to write home about. The saving grace was in the form of the secondary characters. At the start of the book I kept reading so that I could get more of Cat. Later it was Cat and Raven. Had sequels been written, I would have wanted to read their stories. Cat was this wonderful, multi-layered, tortured soul. Had this book been written today, I would almost expect his character to be gay. Perhaps the fact that he was not makes his relationship with Merry all the more poignant. Raven was the youthful heart of the story. He is no innocent boy, but there was a purity and honesty to his character that made him unique. It also landed him into a heap of trouble. He was unrepentant, and I loved it.
Homer gives his woof of approval even though the character is named Cat. (man my phone camera sucks!)
All in all, I am glad I forced myself to go on reading. Not a favorite, but not a Dreaded (Old School) Historical. If you like the subgenre, especially those from the 80's, you should definitely give it a shot. Others? Proceed at your own risk. Enter into this reading relationship with the understanding that it may not be all sunshine and roses.