First thing first: you either like Bertrice Small's writing, or you don't. If you have any distaste for historical romance, she is not the author for you. If you don't like sex scenes or long sequences of historical detail, she is not for you. And if you've read her other books and didn't like them, this is definitely not the book for you.I love Bertrice Small. She was the first romance author I ever read, and I still read her to this day. At current count, there have only been two of her books that I've stopped reading half-way through. The first book of her Hetar series was the first. This is the second.It's not that there's anything missing from her usual formula here. Helpless but determined heroine, caught up in political intrigue when she would rather be at home with her true love, who she either doesn't meet until two hundred pages in or is separated from for the duration of the story. But for some reason, this one just fell flat for me. It seemed like after each tragedy Adair suffered, a little more of her characterization fell by the wayside. By the time she meets the hero, she's little more than an obstinate paper doll. She starts off incredibly intelligent and strong, and ends mean and self-serving.I guess every book can't be "All The Sweet Tomorrows", but I'm still disappointed, because Small's books are usually a homerun with me.