Halfway to Paradise by Emily Bradshaw wasn’t the worst book ever, but it was exceptionally dull. Only the stunning Elaine Duillo artwork for the cover saves this book from the garbage pile.
Illustrator: Elaine Duillo
Published by: Dell
Genres: Historical Romance, Cavalier Era Romance
Buy on: Amazon
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
The best thing about this 17th-century Cavalier vs. Roundhead romance, Halfway to Paradise, by Emily Bradshaw, aka Emily Carmichael, is its stunning cover art.
Judging a Book by Its Cover
Brooklyn-born artist Elaine Duillo, who, in her long and storied career, earned the well-deserved moniker of “The Queen of Romance Cover Art,” did it to me again! How many books have I purchased simply because I was dazzled by the hypnotic painted covers, only to find disappointment within the pages of those supposedly lurid novels?
The artwork for Halfway to Paradise is an excellent representation of Duillo’s flair for making even the most mundane tale seem enticing. This one is done primarily in purple hues, with the heroine’s long blonde locks flowing down to her knees, providing a bright complement to the hero’s dark-violet doublet.
Back in the day, an Elaine Duillo cover guaranteed you were reading a juicy bodice ripper. That was not the case with this book.
Why have I spent so much time discussing Duillo’s talent rather than the content of Halfway to Paradise? Because, lamentably, the book put me halfway to sleep.
As a result, it took me six weeks to finish this dull story. It’s about a widowed Puritan lady who adopts an imprisoned Cavalier’s son. The English Civil War and Restoration eras generally hold great appeal for me. Alas, this lifeless romance just didn’t cut it.
The Earl of Chester, Matthew Hawkins, as an enemy of Cromwell, has had everything taken from him, including his liberty. He escapes prison to become an underworld criminal called, predictably, the Hawk.
Determined to find his son, Hawk plots vengeance upon the woman who stole him. Instead of revenge, he finds love with Mrs. Jane Alexander, who, like many widowed heroines in Romancelandia, was unhappy in her first marriage.
Eventually, Jane, Matthew, and their son leave England for the safety of Holland, where they do nothing but pine for home and write letters, and then it’s back to England for a happy ending.
In the end, this was a lackluster read due to the minimal conflict and little chemistry between the protagonists.
Final Analysis of Halfway to Paradise
I read Halfway to Paradise back when I was still determined to complete every book I started. To DNF a book was a sin!
But this historical romance was like water torture, every page a painful drip, drip, drip. According to my stats, I began this book in early November 2010 and finished it on New Year’s Eve, just in time to add it to my annual tally of read-books.
Ten years later, I’m much wiser when it comes to reading habits. If I get into a slump, I know it’s time to reread old favorites. Or turn to different genres to get my mojo back.
Most importantly, I understand that it’s okay to categorize a book as “did-not-finish.” I used to feel that DNFing a book was a wasteful extravagance. It was like not finishing a meal that I’d paid for. I got that attitude from growing up poor. If we spent money on something, the item had to be put to use–no excuses.
What’s truly wasteful is spending time on a book that brings no pleasure. No matter how many pages you’ve read, how costly the book was, or how great everyone else thinks it is.
For me, Emily Bradshaw’s Halfway to Paradise wasn’t the worst book ever, so it merits higher than a 1-star rating.
As I said, that cover is a thing of beauty, so I’ll bump up the rating a teeny bit for that superficial reason alone.
(COVER ART POINTS DON’T COUNT)
|Rating Report Card|
Jane Alexander knew it was wrong to buy a child, but surely God would forgive her. She had lost her baby. Now she would mother he soon-to-be-orphaned son of a condemned spy. But when she visited Lord Chester in jail to assure him that his child would-be safe, she made an enemy who vowed to stalk her from the grave. She tried to forget his blazing hazel eyes — until the day he returned from the dead to claim his son — and her as well….
UNREPENTANT ROYALIST…Halfway to Paradise by Emily Bradshaw
Once he had been Matthew Hawkins, Earl of Chester. Now he was “Hawk,” escaped convict, King of Thieves, master of London’s underworld, determined to drive the puritan Cromwell from England’s helm. But first he would find his son — and Jane Alexander, whose face haunted his dreams. He thought she was the enemy until he met her in a contest of wills. Her reckless courage, her stubborn integrity, her innocent beauty were devastating. But it was her passion that shook them both to the core…