There have been authors and readers who have suggested that we at AAR should only write nice things about the novels we read. I have a few nice things to say about Whisper Always:
- The hero became almost likable during the final third of the book.
- It takes place during the Victorian times – a period I’d like more of my romances set during. (Although come to think of it – the story doesn’t divulge many juicy details about the Victorian era, and could have, in fact, taken place during the Regency period or numerous other times in English history. Well, actually, there were times it didn’t even really feel English.)
I’ll give you fair warning. Those of you who don’t appreciate negative criticism should turn back now, as I am about to get a bit grumpy.
Christina has a horrid mother – a mother who is determined to use her beautiful and innocent daughter to her own advantage. A mother who puts her daughter on the auction block, supposedly to sell to the highest bidder for marriage, but instead, she secretly sells Christina to the Crown Prince Rudolph of Hapsburg, where she is to become his mistress. Christina vows to escape, and indeed does so with the help of Lord Blake Ashford. Blake has no choice but to hold her at his home until he figures out what to do with her. This turns out to be not difficult for Blake though, as he begins to find Christina wonderfully desirable as well.
Christina, although described as intelligent and willful many times throughout the story, was more of a have-the-big-bold-man-take-care-of-me type of heroine. Christina’s role in the story went something like this:
“OOOO – I hate you!
I love you! Take me now!
Nope. I hate you – I really do. How could you treat me this way?
He treats me so poorly, yet I love him.
I love you! Take me for as long as you will have me!”
Blake, on the other hand, although really quite despicable in the beginning, remained much more steadfast in his affections, although he lacked any kind of self-control. Without giving too much away, I will say that he was too fond of the hanky panky without worrying about the consequences. All of the consequences. Both of these people behaved in ways that made them very difficult to like or respect. Without either of these qualities, why should any reader care about their happily ever after?
Whisper Always had other problems as well. None of the secondary characters were likable, at best, and, at worst, were reprehensible or just plain weak people. And, Christina and Blake were separated for too much of the book. When they were together, their relationship wasn’t developing, unless you consider having loads of sex to be one and the same. Finally, given that the setting moved from England to Vienna to New York, these locales were not given their due. The author failed to provide enough atmosphere for me to differentiate between Vienna and New York, which is quite a shame.
Even with all these difficulties, the story might be appealing to someone – especially someone who likes an epic of a tale with lots and lots of pain and suffering. Except that ultimately Whisper Always is based on a shaky premise. Slight spoiler here – I can’t imagine a Crown Prince (or anyone of the nobility for that matter) taking responsibility for someone else’s baby just so he could have a go at the lady once she was finished with all that childbirth stuff. Christina must be something else indeed.
There were a few good moments. When Blake confronts the main villain, the comeuppance reads quickly. Otherwise, it is a painful book to read right to the end, when the happy couple have a moment of pure sexual longing right after childbirth. Having been there myself, at that messy, wonderful, and very sore moment, the sexy talk is beyond my comprehension. Hopefully, for the sake of Ms. Hagan Lee, I am alone here.