Disclaimer to this review: this is not a poorly written book.
Ms. Chase, being the famed author that she is, did not do poorly in terms of writing in this novel. My rating has a lot more to do with my personal taste and is in no way a reflection on Ms. Chase's writing quality. Her style in this book even reminded me a little of Jane Austen. Definitely more modern but I have the distinct feeling that I had when I read Pride and Prejudice as a young girl. For the writing itself I would have given it 3-4 stars.
That being said, I did not "like" the book. The story is a little too plain for me. I skipped the last 40% of the book and went straight to the last 10 pages. There is a little too much about Basil, the cousin rake who will be the lead character in the 2nd installment of the series. I hope Ms. Chase redeems him in that book, which is now in my library and waiting to be read. He is rather annoying in this book. Edward is the typical hero without a dark past. Isabella, God, what do I say about a woman that has nothing special about her? I cannot fathom why Edward would "fall in love" with her. Why her?? I mean if you do not endear her to the readers by showing her many virtues, then at least write about how Edward and Isabella came together. Instead, we get a fills after fills of the family, the cousins, the uncles and the aunts.
And I do not understand the plot of Isabella's father. It is such a short book but has so many characters, so many debutantes, so many uncles, aunts and cousins. Not enough Edward and Isabella. Defintiely too much Basil. I don't feel that I know Edward and Isabella at all. And they are the lead characters!
I wish I liked the book better. Such quality writing should be appreciated in a great story. Alas, while the writing is wonderful, the story sucks. I read in other reviews that this was Ms. Chase's debut romance novel and know she has had great success with her later books such as [b: lord of scoundrel|425377|Lord of Scoundrels (Scoundrels, #3)|Loretta Chase|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1381766823s/425377.jpg|414437]. Maybe she was still learning the ropes of writing a "romance" novel when she penned Isabella. As a novel it is not bad. As a romance, it really pales in comparison to other great romance stories.