Geraldine Jordan has been preparing herself for an arranged marriage contracted by her late aunt and the matriarch of the McKenna family, hopiSynopsis
Geraldine Jordan has been preparing herself for an arranged marriage contracted by her late aunt and the matriarch of the McKenna family, hoping that she might end up the wife of Alistair McKenna, a man she has been in love with most of her life. With the congenital malformation of her foot and her subsequent limp, she knows she's not the best choice for a bride, but her trust is in God to work everything out. To her surprise, her Uncle Henry arrives with news that her intended has turned her down as a bride and instead wishes to hire her as a governess for his orphaned niece, Erin Elyse. When Alistair arrives, she makes it clear that she has no desire to marry him anyway, especially with the hurt of his rejection and the fact that his brothers made her life miserable with their teasing when she was younger. Although hurt about the rejection, Geraldine clings to her faith in God, and trusts that this was his plan for her to be there to help this young girl, and to cherish any time she can spend near Alistair.
Alistair feels profound regret for hurting Geraldine with his rejection, when the truth is, he's been in love with her as well for many years. His reluctance to marry is not because of her, but because he doesn't think he'd be a good husband. He wants to make amends for hurting her, and seeks to draw closer to the God he has distanced himself from lately. Forces inside the McKenna home are working together to unite the two sweethearts in marriage, while at the same time a veiled threat lurks in the household with other plans for Alistair McKenna's future.
That Impossible Dream is a historical romance with an intrinsic Christian faith message. Geraldine is a young woman who has faced some significant obstacles, but relies on her faith in God to keep her strong and to keep her moving in the face of heartbreaking circumstances. I liked her character a lot. I found her encouraging, and her anguish at life's disappointments and her faith in the Lord helped to draw me into the story. Unfortunately, she was the only character who had a noteworthy impact on me as I read this book. Alistair was introduced too late in the story to grow attached to him, and the romance wasn't sufficiently developed for me to find it credible. I needed to see Geraldine and Alistair spend more time together in this story to become emotionally engaged in the love story between them.
Another issue was the heavy reliance on narrative, which didn't serve to advance the story. More dialogue and character interactions, particularly between the two leads, would have given this story much more impact. I actually felt like some less important characters got more screen time than the most pivotal ones. And characters who play a crucial role seemed not to have enough dialogue.
Lastly, there was a major pacing issue. It was as though the last fifteen pages included most of the action and wrap-up in this story. The suspense element felt like an afterthought because there was no buildup or gradual progression over the course of the story. The resolution occurred so quickly that it wasn't believable.
Overall, I was disappointed with That Impossible Dream. Although I liked Geraldine's character and I rooted for her happiness, I didn't find much more appealing about this novel. With more dialogue, better pacing, and more focus on the interactions between Geraldine and Alistair, I think this would have been a more satisfactory read.
Oh my goodness. This is one of those that has a sappy romantic like myself sighing. A lonely, isolated man. A woman who 'has it together' or so it seeOh my goodness. This is one of those that has a sappy romantic like myself sighing. A lonely, isolated man. A woman who 'has it together' or so it seems, but is a wreck on the inside. And they find each other.
The Beauty and the Beast retelling doesn't get old for me. After all, I am a die-hard romantic and a die-hard fairy tale lover. Pepper Pace does both so well here. Yet, instead of the Beast being grumpy and surly, Christopher is the sweetest teddy bear (although he probably resembles a Grizzly bear) imaginable. I loved him!
Pace challenges the reader here. Our Beauty has a significant weight problem. And the weight problem isn't her issue, but the emotions underneath it, the ones that caused her weight issues, and the results of them. If you've ever been overweight, you know how it is for Ashleigh. The comments that hit like barbs, because someone thinks they have the right to say something or the fact that they are insensitive, because they've never struggled with weight problems. The assumptions made about you because of your weight.
On the other side, she doesn't make Ashleigh into a completely harmless victim. Ashleigh has some shallowness issues to work through. But that's the beauty of this story. She is able to see the beauty beneath the horrible scars and disfigurement that Christopher has. I truly loved the emotional connection between Christopher and Ashleigh. And there was also a very sensual component to this book, for romance readers who need that in their stories. Lots of spice and hot love scenes to go with an emotional love story that feels so authentic and timeless.
When I got to 38% on my Kindle and love declarations were made, I wondered what else could happen in this book. Well, plenty. This is a love story about not just two people finding each other, but also also finding their way to healing. Making a life together in spite of obstacles they both face.
When you read these kinds of stories, the stubborn person in you is determined to be upset if the problem is fixed, such as the heroine losing weight, or the hero getting his disfigurement repaired. But is that truly fair to the story for the characters not to go through that passage 'just because'? After all, it's easy to stay where you are. Even harder to take that step of faith to change something about yourself for the right reasons. In this case, the resolution made so much sense and only added to this story.
If I could change anything? That's a matter of personal tastes, and I'm sure many will disagree with me. However, I could have done without some of the graphic language in the love scenes. While they were scintillating and the chemistry powerful, I guess I didn't need to read certain terms when it came to body parts. That's a small quibble.
I'm personally no grammar stickler, but there were a couple issues there. I feel bad even pointing them out because a 100% accurate book doesn't necessarily tell a story that I love, like this somewhat imperfect one does. Overall, I found the writing very poised, professional, and so emotionally-stirring that I couldn't help but give this a five star rating.
This was a beautiful love story. That's kind of ironic, because this story is about how what's on the surface doesn't show you everything. That what is at the heart is worth fighting for in the end.
Highly recommended to romance readers who enjoy a more sensually descriptive love story, or just any old sap who can't resist a tried and true love story....more
Holly Harrison meets kind, good-looking, if very overweight Jess Colton when they are stranded in the elevator in their apartment building. He helps hHolly Harrison meets kind, good-looking, if very overweight Jess Colton when they are stranded in the elevator in their apartment building. He helps her to get through her attack of claustrophobia and fear by praying for her, and shows what a nice guy he is. Once they are rescued from the elevator, Jess invites her to go to church with him. Holly became a Christian years ago, but she listened to her sister's insistence that God wouldn't forgive her for the sins she had committed while in college, so she stopped going to church, praying and reading her Bible. Jess's encouragement and spiritual counseling helps Holly to get back in a close relationship with the Lord, and she starts to fall in love with the gentle, beautiful man. His weight doesn't matter to her. She sees the loving person inside, and is drawn to him for his love for God and the warm friendship he shows her. Even though she knows that he probably wouldn't want damaged goods like herself.
Jess falls in love at first sight with Holly, but more importantly, he reaches out to the lonely, unhappy young woman with the love of Christ. While others seem repelled and critical of his weight, she shows him loving friendship and support. He knows that no woman would want him with his large body and his addiction to food. All he can do is take comfort in their friendship, even if he wants more in his heart. But what can he offer to her when it turns out that with his weight issues, his health is a ticking clock getting closer to eternity?
Give Us This Day was a very touching novel about the relationship between two lonely people who felt deeply unworthy inside, despite their relationship with Christ. I appreciated that God brought them together so they could help each other through their mutual issues with feeling loved and accepted. Additionally, it was refreshing to read a book where the couple falling in love aren't drop dead gorgeous or without flaws, and they love each other for what they see inside, as well for their mutual love for Christ.
The story touched me deeply, both from a spiritual and emotional perspective. Jess was a very good man, and it was painful to see how people treated him because of his weight, as if he was disgusting and inferior and undeserving of respect. Foster ably conveys the message about God's love for all people, and that he accepts us as we are. Jess's struggles with an alcohol addiction that he substituted with food because of feeling a lack of acceptance from his hypercritical father resonated with me. His process of turning that addiction over to God and seeking his help to recover from it, was a powerful message to me of God's ability to heal all our wounds and to be our sufficiency in a fallen world. In the case of Holly, I was reminded that God's love is unconditional, that there is no sin he won't forgive and that we don't need to feel unworthy of his love and fellowship because of mistakes we make, past or future.
At times, I feel as though Christian fiction can be all about a message with no story to go with it. With Give Us This Day, I felt that the message was seamlessly intertwined with an involving story. I rooted for Jess and Holly to find their happy ending together, even as I appreciated the spiritual truths and insights given in this novella. I loved how in the midst of their struggles, these characters were able to find comfort in each other, and from the people in their lives (both Christian and non-Christian), but also to help those who didn't know and appreciate God's unconditional love as a gift available to all.
There are very few, if any romance books that feature an overweight hero or even a hero who struggles with weight issues, so this book serves as a very good trailblazer for a needed genre today. I found that I loved Jess for his whole being as I read this novella. While I felt pain for his emotional issues that led to his obesity and worried about his health, his weight didn't diminish his attractiveness to me as a person. It wasn't hard to see why Holly fell in love with him. I definitely see this as being realistic, because many people don't just look for the perfect physical specimen, either because they have gone down that path and been disappointed or because they know all along their soulmate won't come in that package. They look to the heart for a person who they feel safe and loved with. Give Us This Day is the book for those readers. And for readers who want a great romance with an effective and non-preachy Christian message. I recommend reading it.
I wasn't that keen on reading this book. I am not into sportspeople as a rule, particularly race-car drivers (Sorry, they do nothing for me!). I mainlI wasn't that keen on reading this book. I am not into sportspeople as a rule, particularly race-car drivers (Sorry, they do nothing for me!). I mainly read this because it's part of the Notorious Wolfes series and I didn't want to read the series out of order.
I ended up liking it more than I thought. Alex had more depth than I expected, and I really liked Libby. Alex as a race-car driver is a metaphor for trying to outrun the pain in his past. Eventually he comes to realize that he has to slow down and face the ugly emotions from his past. Ms. Grady got the anatomy and physiology facts right, and kudos to her for that. It added credibility to Libby's being a physiotherapist. There is a nice twist with Libby that adds impact to this story. Overall, this was good but not great.
I liked Libby's backstory a lot. (view spoiler)[The fact that she used to be a champion surfer until a shark attack. I wasn't expecting Libby to have lost a lower leg in an accident. I felt that this made her more identifiable than the typical Harlequin Presents heroine, who seems to be so perfect that the identification factor is blown to smithereens. Honestly I didn't think the fact that she was an amputee who wore a prosthesis was handled to the degree that I wanted. She didn't describe it or dwell on the day to day of having a prosthesis. I was looking forward to that part. Since I have recently had mobility issues, this was in my mind as I read the book. I wasn't sure that she would have that degree of freedom of movement to be completely unnoticeable as a prosthesis-wearer, but I will give a benefit of the doubt on that. Overall I was disappointed about the overall handing of this part of the story. But still, kudos to having a heroine who has an obvious and permanent physical 'imperfection' in this line but has taken measures to move on with her life. (hide spoiler)]
I would have liked to see more of the Wolfes in this installment, because that's why I enjoy this series, the family dynamics. On the other hand, I appreciated a closer glimpse at the family through the eyes of Alex and to see how that terrible night that changed the whole family impacted him in particular, especially as Annabelle's twin.
All in all, this was a good book. The romance was well-written and I felt the chemistry and feelings between Alex and Libby. Both had character depth and their emotional angst had an impact on me. Fundamentally, I just didn't like this as much as the other books, and I don't feel that for me it's a four star book. Pretty close though. After all, I liked it more than I thought I would, and Libby's character kicked this one up a notch more for me. I am excited to read Annabelle and Jacob's stories.
Definitely get out the Kleenex when you read this book, because it will make you cry. If you don't, then I think you're a more stoic person that I am!Definitely get out the Kleenex when you read this book, because it will make you cry. If you don't, then I think you're a more stoic person that I am!
I loved this story. It was a great pleasure to listen to it on audio, narrated by the author himself. He seems like a very interesting person to know and to talk with. All the heart of him, his soul, pain, laughter, confusion, and fire that he had in him when he wrote this story emanates from him as he narrates this novel, and I was along for the ride. I actually didn't want to get out of my car when I got home this afternoon, because I wanted to finish this novel. Fortunately, it was near the end when I got home. Even though I was happy to finish it, I wanted it to go on forever. I could easily listen to further adventures of Arnold Spirit.
On an intellectual level, I was aware of the disheartening conditions that Native Americans (or Indians as Arnold calls his people) face on many reservations in the United States, but hearing it first-hand, it struck home to me how hard that life is. It was hurtful to see that Arnold was raised not to reach for any goals, to believe that as an Indian, his future was a big, black void. That he was less than anything. I screamed, "No. No. No!" But I could understand why Arnold had to change his whole mindset and learn to hope and to believe. I think it brings home how blessed many of us Americans are. Sadly, we forget that not all Americans have even the simplest of things we take for granted, such as food to eat every day, more than one pair of clothes, a decent education (Arnold's Geometry textbook at the reservation school is thirty years old) and the ability to get to school without having to walk twenty miles. Not to mention the very short average life-span of a Spokane Indian due to the ravages of alcohol. I know what it's like to be a 'minority' in this country, and everything that comes with it, but I didn't know what it was like to be an Indian, and that was an excellent learning opportunity for me.
This book is very angsty, and it's also very funny. I felt like I was there with Arnold when he goes through his milestones and horrible tragedies. I cheered him on at his successes, and cried with him when he cried. I loved him. I still do. Arnold's a part of me now. He'll stay in my mind forever, even though I will move onto reading other books, and I'm glad for that....more
If you like the stories where the heroine is hopelessly misunderstood by the hero, then you’d like this one. The hero is drawn to her, but he knows shIf you like the stories where the heroine is hopelessly misunderstood by the hero, then you’d like this one. The hero is drawn to her, but he knows she’s a ‘bad girl’ in some way. In this case, Grant thinks that Devon’s demanding, spendthrift ways lead to her father embezzling money from his company to keep her in the style to which she had become accustomed. He showed up on their doorstep the night before Devon leaves for Sweden, not for an extravagant vacation like he thinks, but for a surgery that promises to give her full use of her hip, which was injured in the car accident that killed her mother. Devon comes back from Sweden to find that her father has been terminated from his job at Grant’s business, and will likely be prosecuted. She approaches Grant and asks him not to prosecute her father, and she’ll do anything he wants in return. His proposition is that she live with him as his mistress. Devon is willing to do this so that she can save her father from prison.
I liked that Grant wanted to be the ruthless seducer, but he didn’t really have it in him. He was clearly in love with Devon early on. He was kind of grumpy about it, but he had every opportunity to seduce her, but he didn’t take them, after he finds out that she had a bad hip and the money was spent to get her well. From that point, he does everything he can to get her to rest as she’s supposed to so she can get the all clear at her follow up.
I thought it was cute how Devon kept throwing herself at Grant so he would go ahead and fulfill his part of the bargain before her father comes back from the business trip in Scotland that Grant sent him on. Grant seems to come up with excuses for them not to be ‘together.’ Although Devon was clueless about Grant’s feelings for her, I as the reader, was not.
I really liked this book. It was a fun read. Devon was a nice girl, and Grant finally looked past his cynicism to see that, because Cupid’s bow had struck him dead center in the heart. ...more
Books like this in the Harlequin Presents line make me want to reach for more vintage romances. I like that this book had a rich story. The hero and hBooks like this in the Harlequin Presents line make me want to reach for more vintage romances. I like that this book had a rich story. The hero and heroine are complex individuals who come together and find a compelling attraction between them. Neither of them are perfect. Adam was delightfully surly, kind of take charge and rough in a way, and very compellingly masculine. He's also a bit insecure about his partial blindness. When Lenore literally bumps into him, they exchange mean words with each other, that Lenore feels bad about when she finds out that he's vision-impaired. Days later, Lenore gets stranded at his house during a freak snowstorm, after injuring her knee. They end up going to bed together, and it felt right to me. The passion and the connection and sharing between them felt authentic. However, Lenore runs away, only to return when her heart draws her back. But that's not their happy ending. They have to deal with some things first. Lenore was in a long-term relationship with a guy I felt was using her. He was Orthodox Jew and while she was good enough to shack up with, he wouldn't marry her unless she converted. When she said no, he broke it off. Now, she is dealing with the heartbreak of being dumped, and she's not ready to let herself be vulnerable in that way to a man. It's even more devastating when she has a powerful, intense attraction to a man like Adam.
Lenore's music ends up bringing them back together, when she's asked to see if the local music group can hold their performance at his house. Adam makes demands on Lenore that she's not ready to deal with, and they end up parting again, not under the best terms. However, he agrees to letting the concerts take place at his house. This brings them into close, tantalizing proximity, showing Lenore and Adam that their feelings are very real.
Although this is all from Lenore's viewpoint, I was able to get a fix on Adam. He's a tough guy who was gravely wounded in a war-torn country, where he lost part of his sight. He's not sure how to rebuild his life without being visual, since that's a big part of his self-esteem, allowing him to pursue his dangerous career is a videographer/journalist. He finds himself drawn to Lenore, and wants all of her. However, he's not good with words in showing his love. They both have to decide if they can love each other and find everything that they need in life together as a unit.
This was a quick, fulfilling read. I'm sure I read Flora Kidd growing up. But I feel the urge to hunt down more of her books, since I like her writing style. Recommended to fans of the older Harlequin Presents books....more
Snowbound was a very pleasant read. I liked the snowed-in aspect with Fiona, who was a teacher who coached a high school trivia team, and John, an IraSnowbound was a very pleasant read. I liked the snowed-in aspect with Fiona, who was a teacher who coached a high school trivia team, and John, an Iraqi war veteran who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. I loved and felt for John. I mostly liked Fiona, but I didn't like the way she handled John's issues. She was bulldozing him into dealing with his PTSD. I didn't like the ultimatum she delivered. She seemed to think he was supposed to all of a sudden become an open book. It doesn't work that way. Falling in love doesn't wave a magic wand and cause a person to open up and lance their wounds. Especially with men, it's hard for them to deal with that kind of hurt easily. And some people aren't able to share their pain with others so easily, and when others guilt them into it, it really feels wrong to me. I think she was insensitive about it, and that bothered me. I know that John had issues and he was doing the ostrich thing, but time would help him, and I think that Fiona could have been more understanding.
I actually liked the aspect of the kids being snowed in with John and Fiona. I have a love/hate thing with teenagers in fiction (and having taught young adults, I definitely got my fill of their often bad attitudes). Their sullenness can be annoying (although I freely admit I was one of those withdrawn, sometimes sullen teens myself). But Ms. Johnson managed to write a lively bunch. I liked the way that Fiona and John approached and dealt with the eight kids, getting them to work together and get along when they are snowed in at John's lodge. I liked how most of the kids pitched in to help matchmake between John and Fiona.
Although most of this book only has a small part set during Christmas, I still enjoyed the setting, with the snowed-in winter environs, and John and Fiona building a bond between that leads to a lifelong love that starts when Fiona and her kids end up on John's doorstep.
This book turned out to be a weak four star because of the way Fiona annoyed me. But, the other aspects were very good, and I just wanted to give John a hug....more
Ms. Milan has lived up to the promise I saw in her writing in the short story I read in The Heart of Christmas: A Handful of Gold\ The Season for SuitMs. Milan has lived up to the promise I saw in her writing in the short story I read in The Heart of Christmas: A Handful of Gold\ The Season for Suitors\ This Wicked Gift. I loved the way she wrote her hero and heroine, and knew she was a writer I wanted to follow. I'm glad that she had written another story that I felt that way about. Her characters are very well-crafted, deep, complex, and textured. I found myself continually evaluating things from each one's perspective, and it was difficult to 'choose sides', which is a good thing. In real life, no person is all good and bad (at least for the most part). We are a complex mix of both, and we often make decisions out of our human drives, sometimes good and sometimes bad. In the case of Ash and Margaret, I could see what drove them, and I felt for them both. Family is very important to me as well, and even though I don't always like everything my family does, I love them, and I'd do anything for them. That's why I couldn't get mad either at Ash or Margaret at the choices they made. Even though their brothers didn't always understand the sacrifices they made for them, it was both characters' choices to give up so much for the love of their siblings. In the end, I was glad that they found each other, and realized that someone saw them truly and loved them honestly. I was glad they found their other halves, because I think that this kind of love is so valuable to humans, and they both needed it. It takes a writer of considerable skill to create such real, lovable characters, and Ms. Milan shows it.
I loved the intensity of her writing, and the strength of the story here, a romance, and a good one, but something more. I liked how she integrated the sensual moments into this love story, making them intrinsic to the development of the relationship between Ash and Margaret. I liked that Ash saw Margaret and knew she was what he wanted and needed. I liked that even though it was a seemingly bad idea to fall for Ash, Margaret did anyway. I know that she had some tough choices to make, and I was glad that she was able to make a choice that was right for her, down deep, and that that choice included Ash. I was glad their feelings for each other, that trust and understanding of each other stayed true, even in the face of what seemed insurmountable. I also loved the authenticity of the Victorian setting, drawn in subtle strokes, but very evident. I could tell that the author knows her subject, and she managed to convey that without overwhelming the narrative with facts about Victorian England and inheritance law.
Giving this book five stars is a foregone conclusion, based on its many strengths, and how much I enjoyed reading it. It was deep, rich, fascinating, sensual, intense, and rewarding. All the things I love about historical romance. Highly recommended....more
Dreams of a Dark Warrior is a story about an undying love that a man had for a woman, a long time ago. Of course, the man is a berserker, a warrior whDreams of a Dark Warrior is a story about an undying love that a man had for a woman, a long time ago. Of course, the man is a berserker, a warrior who harnesses the spirit of the lean winter bear--angry, fierce, powerful, and possessive; and the woman is an immortal valkyrie. This is a book about the danger and sacrifice of love. Love causes you to give yourself away, and there is no guarantee that you'll get anything back. But that is what love is.
CS Lewis wisely said:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Regin had to learn that if she truly wanted to have her love endure and last forever, she had to let it go, and expect no guarantees. The man she was always afraid to give herself truly to--her heart, not just her body--refused to take the little she could give. He kept coming back to her, doomed to die, again and again. Until he was reincarnated as Declan Chase. Declan is the one man who seems least deserving of her love, but he is the one man who is strong enough to demand it, to fight for it with every inch of himself, and to dare her to love him. And he is also her enemy.
This was a hard love story to write, I imagine. I could see that, because, for all its excellence, it was hard to read. Kresley Cole had to start at the beginning, and let the pieces come together until the full story was unfolded. You see the golden, shining perfection of Aidan and Regin’s relationship, and you see how she loses that. And then you see her in the modern times and the man who is the reincarnation of her lost love. Reading this, I just didn't see how it would work out. There’s such a gulf between them. Such a war to be won. I looked hard at Declan, and he was so wretched, so lost. My heart wrenched in my chest for him. Having this yawning hole within him that made him do something horrible to feel whole, to cope. And to have lost his family that way, and to have suffered torture by his inhuman enemies. It gave birth to great hatred within him, fostered by an unjust father figure. Seeing Declan as Regin's reincarnated, long, lost lover seems like a losing proposition. But things always happen for a reason. Even really bad things. Because of what Declan went through, he was the one man reborn of Aidan's soul who was strong enough to fight against the curse that bore down on these star-crossed lovers that always intervened to separate them. I love how he always reminded Regin, "Nothing keeps you from me!" It makes my knees week. Ah, Declan, for such a cold, scary man who wanted and needed nothing but vengeance, you turned out to be a real romantic.
Yes, Dreams of a Dark Lover was a strange, dark love story. But it touched me, because although I don't believe in reincarnation, I do believe love never dies. I believe that love does conquer all. Nothing destroys love. It's eternal. That was a very strong message of this story, and I got it, loud and clear.
As you can see, I loved the romance part of this book, but I also found myself riveted with the story elements. The progression of the situation which arises in Pleasure of a Dark Prince, which promises to turn the Lore on its ear. I am a die-hard fan of this series, and that goes without saying. But I feel increasingly invested with this story with each book, because Cole brings it to a new level. She doesn’t keep me at a comfort zone where I know I’ll get a guaranteed good read. She escalates all the things that make these books such a ball to read, and keeps me yearning to see what she’ll come up with next.
PS. That Lothaire is such a scoundrel! I’m in love! ...more
This was a total impulse buy that paid off. I loved this book. It was one of those stories that I couldn't put down, and I was compelled to read, evenThis was a total impulse buy that paid off. I loved this book. It was one of those stories that I couldn't put down, and I was compelled to read, even though I had already started some other books. It couldn't believe how fast I read it, within about four to five hours.
I love medieval romances, so that helped. And I'm a sucker for the broken/scarred/hurt hero. Well, Roderick is all three. He comes back from the Crusades a broken man, although he had lots of baggage before he went there, with a father who did nothing but torment and treat him poorly and had driven his mother to suicide. Thankfully, his good friend that he makes during the Crusades saves his life and gets him medical attention, and the word that his father has died and he must find a bride to keep his land, gives him the strength to fight to get better and to come back to England.
There were times when Roderick descended into self-pity. I suppose this might not work for all readers, but it was realistic. If if a man had always been talked down to and ridiculed by his father, I wouldn't expect him to have the healthiest self-esteem. Yes, he might annoy some readers the way he pushes his son away and doesn't want to let Michaela in, but I loved Roderick from the first page. He's one of those heroes I really wanted to see happy. I could understand why he kept those he loved and who loved him at a distance, feeling he wasn't worthy and would fail them.
I adored Michaela as well. She had some moments of self-interest, but at the same time, I could see why she was motivated in such a fashion. She had been picked on her whole life because of her mother insisting that she had gotten kidnapped by The Wild Hunt. They called her Devil's Child and stuff like that. She was clumsy and tended to trip and run into things. Plus she grew up poor, although very much loved. One night at a party at her overlord's manor, she gets his attention by her bond with his daughter, Elizabeth, who hasn't talked since her mother died. Also her beautiful singing voice makes Michaela stand out. He invites her to come live with them as Elizabeth's companion. Because of this attention she gets from him, she fell in 'love' with her overlord, and he made some gestures like he was going to marry her, but married her arch-nemesis instead, humiliating her. So she decided to marry the Beast, who was the lord over the man who spurned her, a move motivated out of revenge against this man who spurned her, since he won't inherit the properties of Roderick, his cousin.
She goes to his rundown castle, determined to fulfill the required ninety days of residence before the marriage. When she finally sees The Beast, she is instantly attracted to him, scars, limping, and surly demeanor and all. She falls into his beautiful and bright green eyes, and likes his large, sculpted body, despite the fact that it's clear that his leg and arm are crippled. Their dance around each other made this book worth reading. There was an intense attraction between Roderick and Michaela that sparkled off the page. At times, Michaela was very much put into the role of the "Chaser," but it worked for me, because Roderick had never been loved in that way, so it was nice to see someone working for his affections. It was cute how Roderick was somewhat bewildered by his strong feelings for Michaela.
Another thing I loved was the toddler Leo. He was so cute. I just wanted to take him out this story as my own baby. I loved his baby talk, and how loving he was. As Roderick's acknowledged son by a prostitute in the Crusades, he had a big role, since he was Roderick's heir. Also, the interplay with Roderick as he tries to keep his distance out of fear of destroying his son the way his father destroyed him was pivotal in the evolution of this story. Just reading the scenes with this cute little boy made this book so much more enjoyable. I'm so serious. This kid was so adorable. I liked the way Michaela bonded with him and helped improve the relationship between Roderick and his son. Like any baby, Leo loved his father unconditionally, but was somewhat kept at a distance that was somewhat confusing for the toddler. I was glad that this changed significantly over the course of the book.
Hugh was also a great character. His steadfast friendship and aid to Roderick. His love and care for Leo. His flamboyant tastes in clothing. His potty mouth and irreverent humor. His bad advice to Michaela about how to snare Roderick's affections. It gave this book another appealing layer.
There is a thread of the paranormal that runs through this book that intensifies at the climax. I thought it was very interesting, and also unnerving. It was very cool. Now I have to read the short story in Highland Beast, which is about a character who shows up in this story.
I really, really liked this book,and I would highly recommend it to fans of scarred/wounded heroes,and heroines who are determined to get their man, but aren't obnoxious about it. I'm glad I was able to spend a few hours with Roderick, Michaela, cute little Leo, and Hugh, who made me laugh, and also choked me up with his devotion to Roderick. It was time well spent....more