4-4.5 stars - A wonderful genre mix of historical, romance, paranormal, and mystery, a total treat to read, and I could eat a delectable meal like this every day. (Get writing, Charles!)
What I liked: The characters were very appealing, and their dialogue was sharp (and funny at times.) The setting of Crane's eerie house was very palpable, and the tension heightened throughout the story in a way that kept me on the edge of my e-reader, not knowing what would happen next. (Egads, that hair scene.)
The romance was a nice slow burn as Stephen learned to put aside his prejudices against Lord Crane (once he realized that Crane was not the same as the rest of his hellish family.) Their dialogue and scenes together were some of my favorites. That ending scene was very magical and wonderful to picture.
What was harder: Not much. My only beef was related to the villains. (I felt they kind of came out of left field, at least some of it, for me, so I see this less as a mystery, since I don't know if you could have really guessed about the bad guys.) That, and there were a few "shorter man"/"taller man" references that could have been culled out.
But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it, would recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal or historical romances, and have already pre-ordered vol. 2. (And it can't come soon enough!)
I'm grateful that Charles unleashed her creativity on the world. It's a beautiful beast, and I look forward to seeing where it flies next