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Monday, November 6, 2017

Review: Once a Rebel by Mary Jo Putney

I love the time period that this book takes place. The pace was a bit slow and the romance didn't completely sell me but it was still a good read.

Format: .mobi (A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for the purpose of an honest review. )
Publisher: Zebra
Release Date: August 29, 2017

As Washington burns, Callista Brooke is trapped in the battle between her native England and her adopted homeland. She is on the verge of losing everything, including her life, when a handsome Englishman cuts through the violent crowd to claim that she is his. Callie falls into her protector's arms, recognizing that he is no stranger, but the boy she'd once loved, a lifetime ago.

Lord George Gordon Audley had been Callie’s best friend, and it was to Gordon she turned in desperation to avoid a loathsome arranged marriage. But the repercussions of his gallant attempt to rescue her sent Callie packing to Jamaica, and Gordon on a one way trip to the penal colony of Australia.

Against all odds, Gordon survived. Finding Callie is like reclaiming his tarnished soul, and once again he vows to do whatever is necessary to protect her and those she loves. But the innocent friendship they shared as children has become a dangerous passion that may save or destroy them when they challenge the aristocratic society that exiled them both . . .

What’s it About? Lord George Gordon Richard Augustus Audley and Callista were the very best of friends and when Callista’s cruel father wanted to marry her off to a man three times her age when she was a girl she naturally ran to Richard for help but hey got caught and Richard was almost beaten to death by Callista’s father until she made a deal to save him. He didn’t escape unscathed though and Callista believed he had died. Years later Callie is living in Washington and almost loses her life when a familiar Englishman saves her by claiming she’s his wife. It’s Richard and Callie can’t believe that he’s alive. Now they have to travel together to reunite Callie with her chosen family in Baltimore and during the trip they discover that their once innocent friendship has become something more passionate and dangerous.

Overall reaction to the story? There are a lot of names being thrown around in Once a Rebel and most of them belong to Richard. His full name is Lord George Gordon Richard Augustus Audley but he usually goes by Gordon but Callie calls him Richard. English society calls him Lord Audley but in Washington he’s Mr. Audley. Then there’s Callie. Her name is Catherine Callista Brooke but Richard calls her Callie. Others know her as Catherine. It got a bit confusing and frustrating. The plot itself was fascinating because it took place in several different places, Jamaica, Washington, Baltimore, and England. Each setting told a key part of the story of Richard and Callie but I felt that the pace was super slow when it could have gone a bit faster. I wasn’t totally convinced by Richard and Callie’s transition to lovers either. It seemed to pale in comparison to their easy, warm friendship. Once a Rebel wasn’t a bad read but it didn’t quite reach the potential that I saw in the beginning of the book.

Describe the hero in five words: Determined. Kind. Intelligent. Stubborn. Funny.
Did you like him? Yes.
Why? I liked Richard as much as I felt bad for him. He was the mistreated third son of a horrible man and yet, he loved Callie as fiercely as a young man could love his female best friend. He was willing to do anything to save her from a bad marriage and it almost cost him his life. I loved his unwavering loyalty to Callie even though years had passed and he didn’t know what had happened to her. He was still willing to do anything to help her and those she called family. He was dreamy but he was also funny! He was always ready to joke around to lighten a tense situation. He had almost everything to make him the PERFECT man.

Describe the heroine in five words: Courageous. Witty. Fun. Loyal. Caring.
Did you like her? Yes.
Why? Callie was similar to Richard in her loyalty to their friendship and I loved that. She changed a lot and believed for years that he was dead but the moment she saw him again it was almost like no time had passed. I admired her deep love for her chosen family and the deep love she had for Richard, even though she didn’t realize that her childhood love had turned into the love a woman has for a man. Callie was no damsel in distress either, her life had toughened up the rebellious girl she had been into a force to be reckoned with. She pulled her own weight in difficult situations and wasn’t prone to inconvenient hysterics. At the same time Callie always questioned whether she was doing right by those in her care and that to me gave her a realness that made her a better character.

Let’s talk about the romance: My problem with Richard and Callie’s romance was that it didn’t really make an impression on me. These two had such a strong friendship that felt natural and provided a lot of the humor in the story and that should have been a super strong foundation for a passionate romance being that these two hadn’t seen each other in years and yet that transition was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. There wasn’t a grand confession between them, in fact that “aha” moment didn’t come until like the last five pages and it sounded almost as if it was an afterthought. I loved their friendship but I expected more from their romance.

How about that supporting cast? Callie’s family makes up most of the supporting cast and I did fall in love with them. They’re so warm and caring, so unlike Callie’s birth family. I enjoyed the dynamic between them and their acceptance of her as the leader of their family.

Click It or Skip It? Click It. Despite the slow pace I enjoyed the different settings of this story and the strong friendship between Richard and Callie.

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