I cannot say enough about Eloisa James' fairy tales. I love them. They are whimsical, lyrical, beautifully written. I fall into them immediately and aI cannot say enough about Eloisa James' fairy tales. I love them. They are whimsical, lyrical, beautifully written. I fall into them immediately and am completely immersed in the tale - so much so that when they end I look up and around, blinking in surprise to find myself still sitting on my couch.
No surprise then, that I loved this story. Yes, it's yet another take on the tall, beanpole-ish wallflower and the breathtakingly handsome suitor - but it is wonderfully written, with enough differences to keep it interesting.
Oh, what's wrong with me? I should be really liking this book and I just don't.
Here's the premise: book opens with hero in the Tower of London, on hisOh, what's wrong with me? I should be really liking this book and I just don't.
Here's the premise: book opens with hero in the Tower of London, on his way to his trial for the murder of his wife. Hmmm. Good start, I think.
Flashback one year -- heroine is on a Dutch trading ship on her way back to England from Australia when their ship is taken by Indonesian pirates. She and her daughter are separated and they are sold as slaves. Oooh, I think. This is different!
Hero is in the East Indies, on his last trading run before returning to England. On a royal visit he spies a European woman being sold at a slave auction and his Quaker sensabilities are outraged (Bing! first inkling I ain't gonna like it - I like my heroes with little to no morals) so he finagles a deal in which he can barter for her freedom. He is challenged by the sultan to an ancient game - roll the ivory dice 5 times and win all five challenges, one per day. The challenges are varied and most are life-or-death. A unique bond is forged between Gavin and Alexandra during the course of the 5 days and nights - she is brought to his room in a gilded cage and all of their interaction is through the bars.
The final challenge is the deal-breaker, and I won't go into it here. Intriguing (and titillating, and potentially sexy) as it is, this is where the book started to lose me. The hero hasn't been with a woman since his wife died in childbirth almost ten years before. He just doesn't believe in that stuff outside the confines of marriage and the only woman he had even been with was his wife. (Bing! Bing! Strike 2 - my heroes need to be experienced). All very admirable, of course, but where does that leave me, the reader!?!? It leaves me with no love scenes, that's where it leaves me!
In the hands of an author like Anne Stuart (my latest obession), Eloisa James, or any of many current writers, this would be no problem. There would be tension, there would be angst, there would be steam. There ain't none here. Maybe that's my problem - the writing. There's nothing grabbing me, pulling me in to the story and making me care about the two main characters. Gavin and Alexandra both seem to be very nice people who had a romantic adventure, but very nice only works for me in real life. Milquetoast, pleasant people don't make for compelling reading, imo. I'm not even really sure what they look like! The author hasn't really given me a whole lot to work with.
I've left the book at page 139. They are on their way back to England - Alex is worried about how she and her daughter will be received by society after being abducted, and Gavin has thrown out a proposal of marriage to Alex -- they have to, he says, because of what they did and his moral beliefs (again with these PRINCIPLES!).
I'm thinking there's lots of intrigue to come (the book opens with him on trial for Alex's murder) but I just can't stay interested. Dammit. I think I'll put it aside for a day when I'm not so picky. ...more