Flawless - Carrie Lofty
I always look forward to a Carrie Lofty book because I know I’m in for an emotional love story with a rich eye to detail — as well the fact most of her stories have unusual settings and characters. The main theme of the book is the estranged couple reconciliation trope, which I really like — although I do find it can be hard to resolve because sometimes the tension and emotional aftermath can be overwrought or forced. But with Flawless, I loved how Carrie Lofty presents the love story; it really felt organic and realistic without falling into the trap of too much angst, and the romance is really multi-faceted because of this.The characterization is also another high point to the book and both Vivienne and Miles were well developed and three dimensional with realistic flaws. For Vivienne, respectability and hiding behind a shield of societal manners is a way to distance herself from her past and the castigation of her illegitimate past. Due to this, she appears cool and aloof and Miles finds hard to breach her emotional walls. However, he also has flaws which contributed to their mistrust and separation as he escapes the threat of being emotionally intimate with Vivienne by continuing to gamble and drink. Yet this new opportunity is a great catalyst to brings them together and force them to face their fears and issues, and I loved how they each come to realise this. The romantic and sexual tension buildup from the outset of the book was truly delicious, and I loved their sparring with each other and later in the book with their partnership in the business which helped to reconcile their differences.I especially loved Miles who really had a Joie de Vivre air around him which makes people underestimate him because of his bored, arrogant and playboy-like appearance that he uses as a cover to hide his vulnerability. Vivienne’s realisation of this was fantastic and it also helped her to realise that Miles is serious about their marriage and wanting to give their relationship a fresh start. This forces her to face up to her own fears and truths about her past.Nonetheless, I wished the plot held more tension with the way they had to save the diamond brokerage business . It involved a cold and calculating villain and how that was resolved felt a bit anti-climatic. And I wished more time was spent on exploring and presenting the setting. I did find the first half of the book was a great set up for this but the second half diminished its focus as the romance really took centre stage which was great, but I may be a bit spoiled with other books by Carrie Lofty which really delve in historical details and places, and I missed that aspect with this book.With Flawless, you will definitely find an unusual setting with a rich tapestry of characters and detail. I also found the prose is lush and rich and you really savour each word, because Carrie Lofty has a real gift to bringing details and characters to life. Although I did think the romance was much stronger than the historical setting which I wished that it was explored more fully. The romance between Viv and Miles was beautiful and multi-layered and I was totally caught up in their characterisation and love story. Flawless is evocative, rich and full of emotional depth, and will draw you in.