Friday, March 20, 2009

A Daughter's Promise by Christine Clemetson

TITLE: A Daughter’s Promise
AUTHOR: Christine Clemetson
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 79k)
GENRE: Historical romance
COST: $6.00

Serene Moneto has been promised to Marcus Sturini almost since birth, but when her father is killed helping a wounded American soldier, and she is left as the sole head of the family, the last thing she wants to think about is marriage to a man she doesn’t really like. She hides the American at her home, and though Miles Coulson captivates her almost from the start, the reality is that her family needs this marriage in order to survive. She has no choice but to see it through, even though her heart belongs to another…

Though historicals aren’t my first choice to read, I must admit to having a soft spot for WWII stories in any shape or form. Something about that period really speaks to me, and as an aside, it’s really a shame there aren’t more of them out there right now. This particular offering starts out on a strong foot, but slowly loses ground, so that in the end, it finishes a mediocre and unfortunately not very memorable read.

Serene Moneto is the eldest of three children, and though she is not the biological child of the only father she has ever known, she is loved and treasured. His one desire is to see her taken care of, the way he had taken care of her deceased mother when she needed him, so he makes arrangements early to marry Serene to the son of his best friend. The war wreaks havoc on both families’ finances, and when her father is killed protecting the wounded Miles, Serene naturally turns to this marriage as the saving grace for both of them. She is much as her name suggests – even-tempered, always looking out for others, intelligent, and beautiful. There’s a lot to admire about her, and I especially responded to her quiet sense of right and wrong when she insisted on taking Miles in, even though doing so put her family at risk. It helps that Marcus is kind of a jerk even from the start. The reader sees the real sacrifice she is making in order to do what she feels she must. Taken throughout the duration of the story, however, the martyrdom act starts to wear a little thin.

Miles is honorable and charming at the story’s onset, two characteristics that never fade as the story progresses. His characterization seems to get sidelined as Serene’s difficulties grow, though. More than once, I wished we could get more from him, to see him interact outside of the Moneto influence. Thankfully, there’s one section in the last third of the story where that happens, but by that point, it’s almost too little too late. While I loved the actions he took within the context of the final chapters, I couldn’t escape the feeling that there was more there I should have known.

The story evokes the battle-torn ambience of Italy very effectively for its first half. I flew through that section, in love with the setting, in love with the characters. Slowly, though, it began to crumble, first with the characters and then in the actual events of the plot. More and more, the author relied on clichéd twists to worsen Serene’s predicament. The subplot concerning Serene’s half-sister Margot, for instance, felt superfluous, and every time it cut to her or Samuel, I was tempted to fast forward and get back to Serene and/or Miles.

The disappointing second half drags down what could’ve been a lovely and sweet WWII romance, where language and nationalities mean nothing in the face of real emotions. It ends up being melodramatic and forgettable, which is a shame. I wanted so much more for the characters.


8/10 – The charm of the first half breaks down a little in the second half.


6/10 – Warm and decent, though I always felt like I should have known more about him.


6/10 – The martyr act goes a little far sometimes.

Entertainment value

6/10 – What started out as a nostalgic, charming romance fell into melodramatic cliché by the last third.

World building

8/10 – Though I never really felt like I had a clear picture of the whole dowry issue, the WWII environment is evocatively portrayed.



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