Avon, Isbn - 0061733970; 400p
I'll begin by saying that although Ms Foley's historical romances frequently list among my favorites, I won't be adding this book to that list. Reason - I just didn't like how the characters behaved, especially towards the end. Let me start from the beginning -
WARNING - Spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk...
The story gets off to a great start when heroine Kate Madsen is kidnapped from her isolated home on the edge of the moors and delivered as a peace offering to the infamous Duke of Warrington, notorious for his debauchery. That's sets an exciting premise - the furious but doped heroine, the hero pretending to be a bad man etc. They meet, set off sexual sparks, and then the conspiracy takes over. About the conspiracy - simply put, She is descended from bad men whom He and his ancestors have been fighting for ages and still do (I gather this is part of an ongoing background for some of Foley's recent books). Here's the twist though - Kate doesn't know about her black past and Rohan can't tell if she's truly innocent or a good actress. Together they set out to find the truth behind Kate's kidnapping and how her past relates to it. So far, so good.
In the meantime, Rohan proposes to make Kate his mistress and she's all for it. Oookay, not what I expected, but given their reasoning, it makes sense...sort of. And so it continues, with starry-eyed, lovestruck Kate rationalizing away every one of Rohan's high-handed, chauvinistic, hedonistic actions/decisions as due to his fear of intimacy. Again, Foley provides ample background reason for both their actions. However, I didn't like how Rohan uses that as an excuse for his boorish behavior or how Kate lets him get away with that - time and again! My respect for them diminished with every such instance, with the climax being when Rohan demands Kate have sex with him all because he's hyped up from a fight and "needs a release". And that too on her father's ship, with her father being just a few doors away, knowing she comes from a good family and that he should not use an unwed lady like that. Unbelievably, Kate understands and agrees. That's when I lost respect for both of them. Feisty Kate shows much promise in the beginning but morphs into this wimpy "understanding" woman while Rohan who starts off as a heroic man with a troubled past develops into this selfish domineering man that I just couldn't digest.
Of course, later on he apologizes for it, she forgives, etc etc. By then it was too late. They couldn't regain my lost respect. Also towards the end, there's this over-the-top Indiana Jones / Da Vinci Code style of archaic historical puzzle solving together with Tarzan like swinging in the air, over fire and endless chasms etc that were described in such a manner that at times that I just couldn't visualize it. Instead I kept seeing Ford running away from a rolling boulder in a tunnel. Sigh... took me away from the book which should not have been the case. But that's how it was, my mind kept wandering as the scenarios and characters just didn't hold my attention.
Too many to list, but here are some major things that jarred :
- Kate's lusting for Rohan even as she's being carried to him, a kidnapped, doped, virginal offering.
- One night of sex, and Kate turns into a ravenous, lusty seductress.
- Rohan has to have a woman every night of the week - how does he find the time, let alone the stamina amongst his various clandestine, assassin duties etc?
- Her father, the notorious pirate, leaves her to be raised by one manservant. No communication, no safeguard whatsoever.
- Kate is able to solve complex puzzles with no prior experience, and with hardly any seconds to spare.
- Rohan takes her to his London home to roam free there. A woman he's taken as his mistress!? Hardly likely.
- His legions of married lovers descend on his home, minutes after his arrival there. Again, hardly likely. More probable in the middle of the night. But during the day? En masse? Not at all likely.
When I turned the last page, it was with relief - that the book was finally over and not that the story had carried me off and into a rousing romantic adventure that had reached a well-deserved happy ending.
In short - 2 thumbs down.
This book was received for review/feature consideration.
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