📖 Review: A Sanctuary for Soulden – J.A. Rock and Lisa Henry

Series: The Lords of Bucknall Club

Pages: 292
Time to read: 1h51m
Pages/hour: 188

Date read: Sun 3 Apr 2022

Rating: 🤕🤕🤕🤕🤕

All in all, an excellent night. Most excellent.

Three hours later he was forced to reevaluate his position when he was shot in the back.

A fop, or something more?

If you’ve read the other books in this series then, by the time you get to Lord Soulden’s book, you’ve already got a pretty good idea as to the answer to this question. Still, coming off A Rival for Rivingdon, we know Soulden as someone who has connections, who knows probably as much as Gale when it comes to solving puzzles – albeit on a larger scale.

Of course, the book itself keeps the plot close to home. After Soulden is shot, he finds his way to the practice of Doctor Fernside, an acquaintance of Lord Gale’s. Then we get a cute forced proximity romance, with a sweet side of hurt/comfort as Soulden recovers from his wounds, which deepens into something more, something a lot more complex on first glance than what we got in the last one.

It makes sense, of course; both Soulden and Fernside are older, more experienced in the world in general, and the difference in their classes brings along its own complications, though that really is not the point of this story. Instead, it’s about Soulden finally meeting his match and carving out a life for himself beyond his work.

“Did you disappear, then, without a word?” It was asked so gently that Soulden felt an odd combination of warmth and despair in the pit of his stomach.

It was for the best. It was for his safety.

Ah. A radical notion, I suppose, to give him a say in what’s best for himself?

Questions of morality

All of these books – as with most books in general – deal with their own moral questions, characters choosing to do one thing or another, but this is a central facet of Soulden and Fernside’s relationship.

As a doctor who wants to learn more, in a time when medical science was developing quickly but still in its infancy in many ways, Fernside definitely dabbles on the less legal side of things. The culmination of this is tragic, serving to bring the two closer, allowing Soulden to share what he, too, has been grappling with.

Again, it’s the characters in these books that really make them shine. Their different perceptions, their different priorities – they feel real in a way a lot of characters in other books don’t quite manage.

As for all the rest…

Spoilers ahead!

There’s, of course, a semi mystery subplot in this novel, with the question of who’s the traitor who tried to kill Lord Soulden at the beginning. He’s fairly convinced it’s Aumont – at least for a while – the Frenchman who was once like a brother to him. The difference in tone in this subplot with the mystery in A Case for Christmas is immediately clear; this is a historical romance/spy novel, and the tone reflects that. We have several days with Soulden and Fernside together as Soulden hides from his enemies. We have time for Soulden to get out of London and visit his father. And, yes, we have the reveal at the end, but just in time for there to be a lot of danger.

There are a lot of fun scenes among the group of lords, too, as well as between Gale and Soulden. For someone who claims to have no friends, Gale features pretty heavily in this book and Hartwell’s, doling out pretty decent relationship advice left and right. And, of course, we have Gus, Fernside’s assistant (/trainee), who gets dragged into the whole mess as well, is terrified of ghosts, but somehow gets through the whole story anyway.

Oh and, of course, Soulden’s son is adorable and it’s great that there’s no real doubt in Soulden’s mind that he does like Fernside; it’s more about the danger that follows him around.

What’s the verdict?

This book’s getting five lil injured guys: 🤕🤕🤕🤕🤕

Soulden and Fernside’s story adds a lot more depth to this series, giving us a historical spy novel that is less hung up on the social niceties of the era and more interested in exploring the consequences of a society like that. Soulden’s certainly been through the ringer, but he and Fernside are a good match, and they deserve to be happy together.

“I have the handkerchief in my pocket. To remind me that he is the best thing that has ever happened to me. But he still does not know what to give me as a gift. He would give me something I hate, because the idea of giving me nothing is unfathomable to him. Even though he already gives me everything without even seeming to realise it. And so we are all fools and life is meaningless.”

Fancy giving it a read?

Check it out on Goodreads.

Find it on Amazon (UK).

Find it on Amazon (US).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.