I have a short attention span and I skim read. While this might mean that I have undiagnosed ADD, it also meaMy name is Tammy, and I am a lazy reader.
I have a short attention span and I skim read. While this might mean that I have undiagnosed ADD, it also means that, from time to time, if an author doesn't smack me in the face with information I'm left wondering what the fuck is going on. On some occasions it is strictly my fault - lazy reader that I am. Others I must lay at the feet of the author, and I'm going to do that with this book.
I wanted to love this book. I SHOULD have loved it. I enjoyed the story the author told very much. I liked the prose, the dialogue and the setting. I liked the Hero, the villains, and the descriptions of the leering, middle-aged horndogs at the country house orgy were unsettling and vaguely menacing (just as the author intended). The whole thing had a very gothic feel to it.
It's one thing for a book to be a mystery, it's quite another to have no freaking idea what the connection is between the bad guy, the heroine (and her family's mysterious background) and the Hero. I know we're not supposed to know all of it, that's why it's a mystery, but you have to give me something so that I give a shit about it. I re-read the first 3 chapters of this book twice, and then looked it up on GoodReads to see if I'd missed a book in the series.
The Villain's name is given to us in the first chapter, but in the same way that you would use the words "Jesus Christ", with an assumption that the rest of the world knows who you are talking about. The same with references to Julia's family, and her Aunt Meredith, and the fact that she has no memory of her life before coming to live with her. Same with the Hero's background, for that matter. The author has the characters talking about the villain, mentioning that he wears a mask, that he has scars and allows no one to see his face, that he is insane and prone to fits. But she never tells or shows ME, the reader. Same with important details about Julia's past, her Aunt, and Alexander. They tell each other, but never show ME.
And isn't it all about ME, the reader? Even if I'm lazy?
I found the heroine the teensiest bit tiresome by the end of the book. There are allusions to this private world they lived in on the estate, almost as if they were being kept safe from something. (This was intriguing, but there was absolutely no pay-off at the end of the book.) She refuses to tell the Hero about her past (or much of anything about herself) and at one point actually becomes mute (at which point I would have slapped her around, but the Hero was much more patient).
The bad guys are dispatched with ease at the end of the book, and there is an ever-so-sweet epilogue as well. All very nice, except it all seems pret-tteeee convenient. And, as we never do find out what the connection is between them all, or the reason the Villain was after them in the first place, I felt cheated.
(Oh, look! There's a book two! Shocking.)
So, to sum up:
If you're a lazy reader like I am, you might plow through this with little to no understanding of the details I have complained about above. You might not like it much.
If you actually read your books word for word and like to figure out the background and details on your own, you'll probably love this book.
I'm going to read the next one in the series, for two reasons: 1) to find out what the heck the story is about their Aunt Meredith. I'm not hugely optimistic that I'll find out, as I've just seen there is a third book in this series. 2) to see if the author is still as coy with her details as she was with this book.
One of my favourite things in romance novels is when the hero has some kind of special nickname for the heroine. Not some sappy thing like "bees kneesOne of my favourite things in romance novels is when the hero has some kind of special nickname for the heroine. Not some sappy thing like "bees knees", but something witty. Some inside joke between the two of them, something sexy that he would say to her in a particular tone of voice reserved just for her. This book has it.
The Honourable Miss Annalise Kempton has fallen upon hard times. She is unmarried, almost 30 and virtually penniless. Her pedigree does not allow her to work for a living and so she spends her life "visiting" one family after another. Her latest visit is to the Chipples where she will guide young Hetty through her first season and help her to find a suitable husband. Hetty, of course, is headstrong and spoiled and has caught the eye of Christian Montcalm, a scoundrel of the first water.
On her first day Miss Annalise intercepts Hetty on her way to a secret assignation in the park with Christian Montcalm. She comes face to face with Christian and tells him in no uncertain terms what her duties are: "I'm someone who is going to make your designs on Miss Chipple impossible to carry out. So cast your lures elsewhere." Christian considers it a challenge and is intrigued by the woman his friend describes as "a dragon. And a bit long in the tooth. Not your type at all."
"You may be sure we'll meet again, dragon." he said, and for some reason the term sounded more affectionate than insulting. "
Ah, there it is. The nickname.
And away we go.
The story hooked me from the beginning. Christian calls her "dragon" through the entire book - who knew that word could be so romantic? He is fascinated by her in spite of himself , she is wildly attracted to him (again, in spite of HERself).
Their verbal sparring is engaging - you cheer for Miss Annalise from beginning to end. The sexual tension between the two is palpable and when they finally get together it is beautifully done. Christian is a completely unscrupulous rake but you love him anyway. He redeems himself by the end as most heroes do and the epilogue is a perfect finale to the HEA.
There are also the requisite villians, nefarious plots and a minor misunderstanding. Oh, and a fairly comic resolution to Hetty Chipple's search for a husband.
A very entertaining story from start to end. I loved it!