Remember those “compare and contrast” essay questions?
Frankly, I’m almost sorry I’m not in Mrs. Gordon’s English class right now because writing a cogent essay on Whirlwind Affair would be a piece of cake. A study in contrasts, the book contains some incredibly refreshing elements weighed down by some very frustrating plotting. But even though a couple of plot details had me gnashing my teeth in frustration, the good happily outweighs the bad.
Disillusioned widow Alberta Brown arrives in England from her American home in order to clean up one major mess left behind by her husband. Though she married for love, her heart was broken and her dreams shattered when she learned that not only was her husband a thief and a blackmailer, he was also repeatedly unfaithful to his young wife. After spending some three years returning stolen items and mending fences in America, Alberta has traveled to England in an attempt to return a ring to its rightful owner and, when her task is completed, visit her best friend, Elizabeth, Duchess of Bradford (Whirlwind Wedding). As a favor to his sister-in-law, she is met at the docks by the Duke’s younger brother, Lord Robert Jamieson.
Wonderfully, unlike the heroes we’ve met a million times who react to the happiness of the married couples around them with an inexplicable distrust of women and a vow never to marry, Robert is determined to find the same kind of love for himself. Using a sketch of Allie drawn by Elizabeth, Robert is startled to find a somber, black-clad young woman who bears little resemblance to the radiant, happy girl portrayed by her friend. When Allie mistakenly kisses him (it’s a bit too complicated to explain here, but it is plausible) Robert thinks that he just may have found the one.
Still, even though she is well past her period of mourning, Allie’s determinedly dour demeanor is a bit of an obstacle, even for a young man as winsome and charming as Robert. And when her life is repeatedly threatened (though it takes Allie a bit too long to figure this out) the couple is drawn together as they attempt to return the ring to the outwardly affable Geoffrey, Earl of Shelbourne.
Robert is a fabulous hero. Kind, sexy, and very patient with the emotionally battered Allie, he is easily the best thing about this book. Allie, on the other hand, does present a few problems. I loved the fact that, even though her marriage was anything but ideal, the sex was another story. In fact, unlike all those widows who are awaiting the appearance of a hero to show them that sex is more than just thinking of England, Allie enjoyed making love with her husband and is more than open to taking Robert as a lover. But – and this is a very big but – D’Alessandro has burdened Allie with the attitudes and feelings she was so careful not to give Robert. All men are jerks and she will never, never, never trust one completely again.
Allie’s attitudes are troublesome, particularly since any idiot can see that Robert is a far better man than her husband ever was. Her persistence in fighting the inevitable seemed driven more by plot than necessary, and another plotting problem occurs at a critical juncture when Robert refuses to tell Allie the entire truth about a painful incident in his past. This is one of those teeth gnashing moments I mentioned earlier.
Still, there is very much to like about Whirlwind Affair, including some terrific love scenes and a great hero. D’Allessandro is well on her way to entering DIK-land and if she can just get past some of the plot creakiness that permeated parts of this book, I’m quite sure she’ll get there.