Fair warning – this review is completely and utterly biased. By the halfway mark, I was basically rage reading – almost everything that happened would just make me madder and madder. The writing wasn’t terrible, and the heroine wasn’t completely annoying. That’s all I got for this one. Well, here goes.
Poor Miss Emily Parr – she just cannot catch a break. Her parents die, leaving her in the care of her (at best) neglectful uncle. When said uncle makes a few bad business deals, he ends up with two very different, and very powerful, men after him. And consequently, after his niece. And because he’s not a very nice guy? Well, Emily is in trouble with two men, and she has no idea about any of it.
First, we have Godric St. Laurent, Duke of Essex – he decides to take revenge on the uncle by kidnapping Emily, taking her to his home, and making sure her reputation is ruined. He is joined in his efforts by his closest friends, the League of Rogues, and his loyal valet (who resembles Godric to a remarkable degree). These fine, upstanding gentlemen seem to have no problem with kidnapping and ruining an innocent – what fine heroes they make!
But then, to make them look better in comparison, we have Mr. Blankenship. Mr. Blankenship is a tyrannical sadist who wants to destroy Emily’s family – there is family history going on there – and has decided the icing on the evil cake would be to marry Emily. That way he can do whatever he wants to her, and no one can stop him (cue evil laugh).
Has anyone here heard of traumatic bonding? It includes things like battered women’s syndrome, Stockholm syndrome, and I have a handy definition for you:
“strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.”
Over the course of the novel, Godric repeatedly threatens Emily – those of us who get to hear the story from his perspective know that he doesn’t intend to really harm her, so I guess that makes it okay? Emily’s smart, though, and tries to trick them several times, almost escaping more than once. Unfortunately, her good nature doesn’t allow her to actually follow through (because you can’t let your pursuing kidnapper drown? I guess?)
Let me share with you some quotes, along with my personal responses (mostly from my notes as I was reading) – don’t worry, they are all spoiler free.
“It was charming, her innocent belief that if she stayed out of his way she would be safe. If he truly wanted to, he could haul her to the bed and take her. But there was little fun in that. (p. 30)
Our hero is not a hero. Are we supposed to swoon over the fact that he doesn’t think rape is fun?
“Women…they know so little.” (p. 53)
SHE’S PLAYING YOU! ALSO, STOP BEING AN ASS!
“If Emily is shouting, she is getting whatever she deserves, good or ill.” (p.126)
I…..there are no words. So many levels of not okay.
“He’s a stubborn, green-eyed rogue who assumes every woman secretly wants him and just needs to be convinced of it” (p. 274) (About the man who reminds her of Godric. And also tried to rape her)
How is this a good thing?! HOW DOES THIS DESCRIBE A HERO!
Romance novels are supposed to have at least something of wish fulfillment. If you are not at least a little bit in love with the hero (or want to either be or be friends with the heroine), the story fails. And how can you fall in love with Godric? If you have an answer, please let me know, because I tried, I really did, and I just couldn’t.
Plus, it all just goes on for too long. We have a bunch of potentially interesting secondary characters (who seemed much better hero material, and I’m guessing they will be heroes in subsequent novels) who basically provide background and bromance. We have the villain and several co-villains, who play very little part in the actual romance. We have a heroine who tries to be strong, and ends up simpering when her escape plan fails. It’s like someone played tic tac toe with romance tropes, and put them all into one piece.
You know those cutesy little “warning” signs some romances have? Like “warning: this story contains a hero who broods, a heroine who likes rubber ducks, and a lot of bathtime hijinks”? Well, here’s my warning for this one:
This story contains a heroine who tries to be interesting and fails, a hero with seriously questionable morals, a mustache-twirling-style villain, and far too much Stockholm syndrome for comfort.