The beginning of Indiscreet is so darn good that I was ready to write this off as a DIK. But…somewhere along the line the story began to lose its luster. Still, when all is said and done, this story remains a very good read that I would recommend to anyone. If only some parts were expanded on, this would have been such a keeper. If only!
Sabine Godard’s uncle is a venerated Oxford philosopher who has just been awarded a knighthood. Accordingly, they make a trip to London to receive this award for his contributions to the empire. Because of her beauty and unusual upbringing, she becomes the source of malicious rumors, and soon a particularly devastating story begins to form about her involvement with the Earl of Crosshaven. She leaves London with her uncle in disgrace.
A year later, Sabine is in semi-exile on the continent, traveling with her uncle in Turkey as he finishes his memoirs. Edward, Marquess of Foye, is traveling in an attempt to escape London society, for he has been the source of some gossip himself – his fiancée jilted him at the altar for one of his friends, Lord Crosshaven. When Foye sees Sabine, he immediately recognizes her; she was the infamous woman who had engaged Lord Crosshaven in an affair. Only Foye knows that this rumor isn’t true, for Crosshaven had made up the entire scandal to take the spotlight away from his real affair with an affianced woman: Foye’s fiancée.
Foye and Sabine are introduced, and develop a reluctant attraction, although he has vowed to forsake beautiful young women, and she has sworn never to marry. Just as their romance is becoming serious, Sabine’s uncle accepts an invitation to Nazim Pasha’s palace. Foye warns her to be careful, as the pasha is notorious for his ruthlessness, and he suspects that the pasha wants Sabine for his harem.
Soon after Sabine and her uncle leave, Foye is told that her uncle died shortly after their arrival. He immediately travels to the pasha’s home, demanding to see her, and is repeatedly given lame excuses as to why Sabine is unavailable. Realizing that the pasha is keeping her prisoner, he kidnaps her out of his palace. They must travel to the border and reach Iskenderun, where they can marry and she will be safe from the pasha.
The chemistry in the opening scenes was intense, and I was excited to watch their romance unfold. There were gigantic sparks flying off from these two. So when I found out that after a few casual encounters, they were already declaring their love for one another, I was like…what?! And because the romantic relationship is so precipitate, much of their subsequent thoughts during their escape are along the lines of: Does he/she really love me? How well do we actually know each other? And their dialogue consists mostly of “I do love you. I do want to marry you” – which was cute and gratifying at first, but eventually became monotonous to read. I really wish they hadn’t done their declarations so early in the book but had instead let the realizations slowly grow.
I appreciated what the author tried to do with Foye’s character, and I liked his unusual height and “beastliness.” Except…the description of him having had “the parts [of his face] put together and given a hard shake before everything had quite settled into place” and the persistent reminder of this unevenness eventually had me picturing him like a figure in a Picasso painting, with one eye near his hairline and the other near his chin. Foye is the real star of the book; I love a man who really pursues the object of his affections, and it is clear that Foye would pursue Sabine to the ends of the earth. His developing love for Sabine is so sweet, and although I’m not sure why Sabine merits such devotion, it’s an awesome thing to read.
The majority of the book is their escape from the pasha, and a great deal of this escape describes Sabine’s experiences disguised as a boy. While this was generally interesting, I kept hoping for something more to happen. The villain-aspect of this plot was a big letdown for me, because he had such potential for evil. The pasha seems suitably ruthless, and it seems like Sabine and Foye are being pursued by true danger. Disappointingly, the pasha basically gives up without a fight and the tension in the story is strangely disproportionate to the reality of the confrontation. The story, which had been sagging minutely since the middle, makes a big sag here, at which point the author throws in perhaps the grandest cliché of them all. Revealing it would be a spoiler, so suffice it to say that it comes late in the book and annoyed me (though it was quickly resolved).
At the end, Indiscreet is a little too riddled with the classic clichés to be truly memorable. This is not to say that the clichés are not well written; Ms. Jewel’s writing style is wonderful, and I’m so glad to have discovered an author who is worth following. The good parts of the story are fantastic, and the so-so parts are still above average. The love scenes are hot. Characterization is good, but I would have loved more; more description of why Sabine is so remarkable and why she and Foye fall in love so quickly. More of everything would have been very, very nice.