Desert Isle Keeper
Monica Burns’ latest is an excellent read about two characters with problems that have been intensified by the cruelty of those around them. I greatly enjoyed this character and dialogue-driven novel and was certainly able to sympathize with the main characters as well as share in their triumph of finally accepting themselves.
Pleasure Me has minimal plot; instead, it is mostly comprised of scenes at various events and outings (as well as in the bedroom). The heroine, Lady Ruth Attwood is self-conscious about her age (she is 41) after her lover leaves her for a younger mistress. The hero, Baron Garrick Stratfield, is 29 but has never been with a woman because of a physical impairment that he believes makes him so unattractive that no one would ever want to touch him.
The story has a lot of great dialogue and I really enjoyed how the author was able to make the scenes interesting without any big plot twists. At the beginning of the story, Garrick overhears someone making a nasty comment to Ruth about her age and steps in to smoothly rescue her from the other women. They become closer as they realize they both run different orphanages. Garrick intends to make Ruth his mistress almost from the beginning of the book and the love scenes are very hot and frequent.
Most heroines in romance novels are headstrong but sexually innocent. I must say, it was refreshing to read about Ruth, who is experienced in the bedroom but still classy and a bit demure. She is a very strong character, even when society mocks her for her connection to a younger man. Also, she shows that she loves Garrick by using a blindfold so she can’t see his impairment during lovemaking. When she finds out about his impairment, she is understanding and helps him to see that it is not as bad as he always thought it was.
Garrick’s physical impairment is complex because he didn’t even notice it until he was mocked and laughed at by his uncle and his uncle’s mistress as a teenager. This was a very traumatic experience in his life and he thinks about it a lot throughout the book. Whenever he hears laughter, for example, he is brought back to his night of humiliation. Since then, he has worked to develop a reputation for being a “man’s man” without actually having sex with anyone. He even sets up a fake mistress whom he supports but does not sleep with. When his mistress leaves him to get married, he begins to entertain the thought of Ruth as his mistress. However, Ruth does not believe that she is suitable for Garrick because she is too old.
Burns’ wonderful writing makes it easy to understand what Garrick and Ruth are going through. Although they feel drawn to each other, they both try to stay away for the other’s good. The people around them are constantly cruel and make their problems way worse than they would otherwise be. This is not only a wonderful love story, but a look at overcoming the scorn of one’s peers.
The only small problem I have with this story is that the hero and heroine go a bit far with thinking that they are not good enough for the other. I have definitely seen this happen, both in real life and in other romance novels. It is a realistic reaction to the problems in the story. However, they are so hung up on this until the very end of the book that it is a little frustrating. Still, I can’t criticize this too much because it made the ending very satisfying.
I believe that a romance novelist’s main job is to convince the reader that the hero and heroine are perfect together. I don’t want to feel that their relationship will fizzle out after the story ends. Ruth and Garrick have great physical and emotional chemistry. Garrick makes Ruth feel loved for who she is regardless of her age and looks, while Ruth helps Garrick not to let his impairment get in the way of living his life. They perfectly complement each other and that is why I enjoyed this novel so much! I wholeheartedly recommend this book and I will definitely be re-reading it in the future.