Gee, just what we all needed, another book with a plot based entirely on secrets, lies, and misunderstandings.
And, as if that weren’t bad enough, the sole emotion this book managed to elicit from me was exasperation at two stubborn and regrettably brain-dead characters – characters, amazingly enough, that we’re actually supposed to like!
The death of Madeline Sedgewick’s despicable husband has left her saddled with a pile of debts she has no way to pay. Even worse, those debts are held by the former stable hand who took her virginity years before…before she was Lady Wolcott. Now wealthy businessman Brock Taylor proposes to forgive the debts and not send the young mother to debtor’s prison if Madeline will help buy his acceptance into society by marrying him. Despite her dire situation, Madeleine refuses.
Now here’s the scoop. Five years earlier Madeleine and Brock were lovers. Madeleine believes that Brock accepted money from her father as payment for abandoning her. Finding herself pregnant (and the reader is told on page 32 that the child is Brock’s – though, of course, he doesn’t know) she married a man who eventually made her miserable.
Now, Brock knows that Madeleine thinks he took the money to give her up, but doesn’t see fit to correct that impression. In fact, Brock accepted the cash to start his own business and paid Madeleine’s father back some years earlier. Got that?
And it only gets worse. Madeleine is determined to keep from Brock the fact that her daughter is also his. And, since she was so miserable in her marriage and vows never to subjugate herself in that way again, Madeleine offers to be Brock’s mistress for six months in order to clear the debts. Though Brock refuses, Madeleine vows to wait for him each evening in a small cottage hide-away in St. John’s Wood.
Let me say that I didn’t like Madeleine and I didn’t like Brock. Both were incredibly stubborn and selfish so stubborn and selfish, in fact, that they actually deserve each other. These are cardboard people and the emotions they exhibit are equally thin. I pity the poor daughter who is stuck with both of them.
On the positive side, Shelley Bradley’s prose isn’t clumsy and her style is readable enough, but the deficiencies of plot and characterization were so intrusive that I just couldn’t get past it.
Anybody who spends more than five minutes browsing any of the romance message boards knows that many readers find it frustrating when a plot turns solely on a raft of secrets, lies, and misunderstandings. Wouldn’t it be nice if both authors and publishers would finally get the message?