I won this in a BookLikes giveaway held by the author.
This short story takes place in England in 1816. Clytemnestra, nicknamed Clytie, used to enjoy going out and meeting people. Then something happened, and she became fearful and nervous around others and often resisted leaving her room. Her behavior threatened to have an effect on her family's standing and her brother's relationship with his fiancee, Isabel. Only Samuel, a doctor and a cousin of Isabel's, seemed to know what to do. He promised that he could help Clytie become more like her old self. What he didn't count on was that his feelings of sympathy and compassion might blossom into love.
I had seen Clytie's Caller in the Smashwords store but ultimately decided against buying it. The heroine's name didn't appeal to me, and I was doubtful that 6,270 words would be enough for a believable romance. When the story popped up as a giveaway, I decided it was at least worth trying for free.
Unfortunately, my concerns about the short length turned out to be justified. Twenty-two pages (on my Nook) were not enough to believably pair up two people who did not previously know each other, one of whom had PTSD. And by “pair up” I mean there is an actual marriage proposal by the end of the story.
All in all, I felt this was a very bland story. The source of Clytie's “battle fatigue” wasn't hard to guess at, and I didn't find either Samuel or Clytie to be very interesting. While I understood that some artistic license was necessary in order to bring Clytie and Samuel together, Samuel's quick understanding of Clytie's condition and the techniques required to help her strained my suspension of disbelief. He was practically psychic about it – all it took was one look, and he instantly knew that she was going through the same thing he'd seen before in soldiers he'd treated.
Some readers may like that Clytie isn't magically cured by the end of the story and even experiences some backsliding. While I applaud this, I didn't think it worked well at all in such a short romantic story.
I counted five typos and might have overlooked more. It was little stuff – a name that wasn't capitalized, a misspelling that should have been caught by spellcheck, a missing closing quotation mark, and a couple punctuation mistakes. Still, more than I expected to see in a work this short.
- The Duchess War (e-book) by Courtney Milan - I went looking through some lists, and this popped up. I haven't read it yet, although I probably will at some point. Milan's writing style is nothing like Cathcart's, but those who'd like another historical romance story in which the heroine is brought out of her shell by the hero might want to give this a try. The primary complaint I've seen in reviews is that it starts off very slow.
- To Kiss in the Shadows (short story) by Lynn Kurland - I know I've read the anthology in which this story can be found, but I can't remember a thing about it. The story came up in a search I did for historical romance starring heroines with PTSD. The descriptions I've read don't mention that, specifically, but they do mention that the heroine is scarred, shunned, and ridiculed.
- The Duke of Shadows (book) by Meredith Duran - Another book I haven't read, and another one that came up in my searches for historical romance starring heroines with PTSD.