Nightingale is a Victorian romance and was free to borrow on Kindle so I took a chance on reading it when there are not that many reviews here on Goodreads or on Amazon. The few reviews that do exist are mostly 4 and 5 stars so I thought it might be worth reading.
The story begins with the main character, Jessica trying to save her hens from being trampled by a horse. The hens are a source of income for Jessica, who assists her mother as a scullery maid at a manor house. Her mother has recently become bed ridden and depends on her help. While I really liked the main character Jessica, I can't say the same for Devlin, the love interest. I'm not sure why this book has gotten so many high ratings. I usually love Victorian and Regency romances, but I found this one to be a somewhat awkward read with some rather weird descriptions, and a confusing and not so bright love interest that came across rather like a pedophile at times, because he couldn't make up his mind if he believed the main character was a child or an adult.
Devlin first meets Jessica after he's been injured during an attack and robbery on the road. As a result he has lost his eyesight, so he mistakes her for a much younger girl of between 10 and 12 instead of 18. He calls her a child from the beginning and she tells him she is not a child, but a grown woman. She helps him back onto his horse and then he insists she ride with him to his home, so she climbs into the saddle in front of him. I will add here that she is in a very baggy dress that is much too big for her and she is very thin and small so maybe at first he would think she is younger than she is just by feeling her waist, but other than that I'm not sure why he wouldn't believe her.
Throughout the book Devlin seems to go back and forth on whether he thinks she is a child or a grown woman. At one point he tells her that he knew all along she was 18 but was pretending not to, only to continue to refer to her as a child again over and over and behave as if he thinks she is a child half the time and the other half he believes she is an adult. This back and forth was really annoying and confusing. I'm sure some of the time he was just goading her on by calling her child, but not all the time. The thing that made this worse is that there are several times when he acts in an inappropriate way for someone who believes he is interacting with a child which came off as kind of creepy to me.
As far as the weird descriptions go, I think the most ridiculous one in the book would have to be this gem of a paragraph, which happened after she was knocked unconscious while fencing. Keep in mind that Devlin, the love interest is blind at the time: "Devlin shifted to lay her over his arm and turn her, giving him access to the last tie, freeing her. As he lifted the shield, her breasts, confined in a chemise and a man's shirt buttoned to her throat, exploded into his hands."
Her breasts did what? I really got a good laugh out of that one. I'm including this paragraph in my review because so much of the book actually hinges on it. The love interest in this book doesn't truly consider Jessica a woman until this paragraph, and that is just cringe worthy while being completely infuriating, and also funny because it's so ridiculous at the same time. Yes, this is when he finally takes her seriously as an adult. He asks his mother why no one told him that Jessica was a fully grown woman. By this point in the story his mother had actually told him that Jessica was 18, and I guess he completely forgot that Jessica had told him herself countless times. I just could not believe how dumb this guy really was. And the fact that big breasts are what finally convinced him she was a fully developed woman irked me. Up until this point it seems like he believed she was 18 but since she seemed small and thin he didn't consider her a fully grown woman? Someone should have informed this idiot that fully grown women come in all shapes and sizes.
I finished this book feeling mostly annoyed. This is a stand-alone and even if it weren't I would not be able to make myself read another one of these.