Colin Thorne kept a wall around his heart no one had ever breached. His two younger brothers were lost to him, perhaps forever, and now a dark mission of revenge had brought the ruthless ship captain to England.
Penniless aristocrat Mercedes Leydon was beautiful…and desperate. Colin Thorne was claiming the estate of her dissolute uncle, the Earl of Weybourne, as payment for a gambling debt. She was treated as a servant at Weybourne Park, but it was home to her and the earl’s children. Now Mercedes would use anything—lies, promises—even her own body—to stop Thorne from destroying their lives.
A man consumed by the fires of vengeance. A woman determined never to love. An unexpected passion that could damn them both...MY STEADFAST HEART by JO GOODMAN
Reviewed by Blue Falcon
SPOILER ALERT ⚠
The Book and Characters
This review is of My Steadfast Heart, book #1 of 3 in the “Thorne Brothers” series by Jo Goodman (a pseudonym used by Joanne Dobrzanski). Published by Zebra/Kensington (March 1997).
Hero: Colin Thorne, 29. Golden-blond hair, brown eyes. Captain, the Remington Mystic.
Heroine: Mercedes Leyden, 24. Dark brown hair, blue-gray eyes. Caretaker, Weybourne Park.
The book begins in London in 1820. Colin Thorne, 8–who will grow up to become the hero of this book–watches his younger brothers Decker and Greyson get adopted while he is not. The boys became orphans after their parents were killed by highwaymen. Colin is later adopted by an American ship’s captain.
Fast forward to 1841. Colin, now 29 and captain of his own ship, the Remington Mystic, is back in London. He receives a visit from Mercedes Leyden, the book’s heroine, who is trying to stop a duel between Colin and her uncle, Wallace Leyden, Earl of Weybourne, over a bet the earl lost Colin. The duel never happens, however, as Weybourne doesn’t show.
As they spend time together, Mercedes and Colin become lovers and eventually marry. Multiple Leyden family secrets are revealed, and Mercedes and Colin discover that they have a tragic connection to each other that neither knew about.
In the end, more secrets are revealed, Mercedes is able to put her personal demons to rest, and she and Colin have their Happily Ever After.
With My Steadfast Heart, Ms. Goodman has created a fascinating concept involving a man separated from his brothers as children, who, now that they are all adults, tries to find them. There are a lot of places to go with this storyline.
The best part of the book, for me, is Colin. He is a good, honorable man, which can be surprising given all he has endured in his relatively young life.
Unfortunately, Ms. Goodman chose to go to a place that is overly complicated and wordy with the first book in the series. Due to that, the book’s storylines go in so many different directions. So it’s hard to tell what is going on. More importantly, why should I as a reader care about any of it? The writing style Ms. Goodman uses here feels like she was asked to write a book to a certain word count. Well, she did her very best to meet it.
Although I liked Colin a lot, I didn’t have the same level of affection for Mercedes. Although I understood some of her behavior, I didn’t find her as likable. She is also a woefully underdeveloped character, as are the supporting characters, who add nothing to the book at all.
The love scenes are good. They are not erotic nor graphic but strike a good balance between love, sex, romance, and the physical act of making love.
Assault, battery, stabbing, shooting, and killing all take place during “My Steadfast Heart.” The violence is not graphic.
Bottom Line on My Steadfast Heart
There are some good elements in My Steadfast Heart, but the laborious writing style Ms. Goodman uses and the overall complexity of the story brings the grade down a bit.
Location: London, England. Time frame: 19th Century.
Tropes: Historical Romance.Regency England Separated families. Ship’s Captain.