First of all, I have to say that I am not a big fan of this cover. It's not that it's badly done--it's just that somehow the combination of the orange color and the shirtless hero crossed the line from nicely eye-catching too just too much, at least for my tastes. (Though, now that I look at the covers for all the finalists in this category, orange is obviously In this year. And while I like a nice, muted burnt orange as much as the next person on clothing or dishes--I have an orange t-shirt I wear all the time, and I saw some lovely rustic-looking orange plates at Pottery Barn the other day--I'm not so crazy about it on books for some reason, especially as the dominant color.)
Anyway, this book is part of my challenge to read one finalist per month from each category of the 2013 Rita awards, in this case Best Historical Romance--i.e. my own home genre. I chose Defiant because I've heard good things about Pamela Clare but hadn't gotten around to trying her books yet.
I enjoyed it, though I probably would've liked it better if I hadn't been coming in on the last book of a trilogy--if I'd read the older brothers' stories, I probably would've been happy to see them again, but as it was I was all, "Yeah, yeah, I know, your brothers are awesome and went through great trials to win their true loves. I get it." I also found myself wondering if the brothers only made Y-sperm somehow, since by the end of the story they have four or five sons between them with nary a daughter in sight. I know, I know, it's a trope, though one I like to defy out of pure contrariness--in the five books I've sold to date, I've given four of my heroes firstborn daughters, just 'cuz.
But I shouldn't focus on nitpicks in a book I liked so much. The writing is excellent, descriptive and smooth without being too lush, the characters are appealing, and the plot gripping and well-paced. I especially appreciated the unusual and richly developed setting--what is now upstate New York during the French and Indian Wars. I can definitely see myself reading more of Clare's work in the future.