The Price of Innocence
“The Price of Innocence is what someone is willing to pay to destroy it.”
These are the words that echo in Sherrie Hamilton’s head in the opening passage of The Price Of Innocence. It has been nine years since she has seen the man who rescued her from becoming another man’s slave, only to make her his own. When she sees him again in England she does not recognize him immediately, but he recognizes her.
Jack PenMartyn is a man with demons. A former spy, he fell in a little too deep with pretending to be someone else, allowing himself to behave in ways he normally would not. One of the memories he cannot shake is that of the woman who has possessed his thoughts for so many years – the woman he knew as Scheherazade.
The Price Of Innocence is about two people learning to forgive each other, accepting how they have both changed, and learning to love one another. It is not an easy read. Only Sizemore’s occasional lightheartedness saves this book from being a completely dark read. This is also not a pretty romance. For the better part of the book the relationship between the hero and the heroine is more about obsession than love. However, once they both allow themselves to put the past where it belongs, and forgive each other they also learn to love. By the end of the book they have saved not only each other’s lives, but also their souls.
At first I didn’t think I was going to be able to finish this book. Jack was a jerk in every sense of the word. He could have been a much better hero if his temper weren’t quite so frightening. His anger seemed to be an almost murderous rage, which was quite off-putting. He used to play Russian Roulette with a fellow agent, drank heavily, smoked opium and was found with a gun to his head by the daughter he never knew he had. He was buried so deep in self loathing that it was very difficult for him to climb out, though gradually he did. What I couldn’t understand was why Sherrie had such a strong emotional reaction to him. Jack’s suicidal and sadistic tendencies were hard to accept, and at one point his gunplay tempted me to toss the book aside. However, I gave it a second chance and hoped that Sizemore was going somewhere with all of this.
Sherrie is an interesting heroine – strong, self-assured and well traveled. It is almost impossible to fathom what she sees in Jack after all these years. One can forgive her for loving him nine years ago when she was only 18 and can appreciate her hate for him now. What is difficult to grasp is why she has continued to love him, and why her one friend who knows what happened in Asia thinks she and Jack belong together.
There are two love scenes in this book. The second is more conventional, but readers should be warned that the first scene does involve a pistol. It sums up the disturbing atmosphere that surrounds the entire story. If you are looking for a lighthearted romance, do not read this book.
Sizemore has a gift for creating less-than-perfect characters and making them sympathetic. Sherrie is not typical heroine material, and I found her refreshing. I even started liking Jack by the end of the book – just a little. I’ll be interested to see what kind of people Sizemore creates for her next book, which I’ll probably pick up just out of curiosity. On that note, I cannot say that I truly enjoyed The Price Of Innocence but I can say that I won’t easily forget it.