A sticky wicket in a romance novel, to be sure. There are readers who won't touch this subject with a barge pole, while to others it doesn't...moreAdultery.
A sticky wicket in a romance novel, to be sure. There are readers who won't touch this subject with a barge pole, while to others it doesn't matter in the slightest. Somewhere in the middle are those who will read it, but insist that it be treated with some sensitivity. The author then treads a fine line - how sympathetic to portray the H/h? How UNsympathetic to cast the (wronged) spouse? Any HEA is never truly that - no one escapes unscathed when this happens.
Heaven Forbids is an love story of epic proportion, the type that makes you hear swelling soundtracks and picture that beach scene in "From Here to Eternity". It is full of desperation and longing, heartbreak and healing. As a matter of fact, it is fairly old-skool in terms of the writing and the scope of the story.
Kathryn and Hugh virtually fall in love at first sight, when neither of them knows the other's identity. Of course, the compelling stranger Kathryn cannot forget is none other than her niece's betrothed. Kathryn is sent as a companion for Sarah as she travels to live with her new husband. She knows from the outset that she cannot have Hugh. He is equally as aware of Kathryn; and even more cognizant of his duty to his wife and his clan.
The expression "they fought their feelings" is trite, but that is exactly what they do. They try desperately to keep their relationship as that between the Laird and his wife's companion, but they cannot. They are drawn to each other as moth to flame. It is dark, it is painful, and it is desperate.
There is no villain in this triangle, no shrewish wife or scheming mistress. Sarah is basically a non-entity (much as happens in real life, I'm afraid). She simply doesn't factor into the equation, other than for the fact that she holds the position of Hugh's Lady. The H/h are not bad people. They do not commence their affair in a trivial way, nor do they seek excuse for their actions. They are anguished by their choice but in the end the pain they suffer by not being together is greater than the pain they would cause by acting on their feelings.
For those looking for a traditional villain in their romance there is one here (other than the folks in the love triangle). Set in Scotland around the time of the Jacobite rebellion, there is also war, madness and tragedy, just to round things out. Nothing gratuitous, everything has its place in the narrative and it all falls together just as it should.
As I said at the outset, when you write a story where the lovers are also adulterous, the HEA can't be full of sunshine and flowers. It needs to be realistic and not insult the reader. The best ones are bittersweet, as happiness gained at another's expense should never be treated lightly.
A super-angsty, old-skoolish read with a noble Hero and a strong heroine. If you can handle the adultery, Heaven Forbids is more than worth the time to read. Ms. Ranney has done a superb job.
Sometimes you can just have too much of a good thing.
I believe one of my GR friends called this book an "exhausting melodramatic hot mess." (Thanks,...moreSometimes you can just have too much of a good thing.
I believe one of my GR friends called this book an "exhausting melodramatic hot mess." (Thanks, Amy!) After having stayed awake until 3:00am to try to push through said mess, I would have to agree.
I really wanted to love this book. When I read Fifty Shades of Grey I was mesmerized - I'd never read anything like it. The story stuck with me for days, and I immediately bought the second book and it was much the same thing. There were little hints of things that bothered me in the second book - I have a pretty visceral reaction to people in a relationship using the words "let" (as in "he let me go out") and the second book was peppered with these. In the first book, Christian was a Dom, and I expected that from him. In the second book Christian had ostensibly let go of that life, and was struggling to let go of his issues with control. In this book, he seemed to me to be just an insecure overbearing asshole, who used sex to distract Ana and get her to do what he wanted. You know how in some cultures they say they put women on a pedestal, which amounts to stripping them of the ability to express an opinion, to have a say, to be told what's going on and eventually they can't leave the house? That's what Christian reminded me of. "Oh, I'm so worried about you, I love you so much, I can't bear to have you out of my sight, don't go to work, it's because I love you so much, you are my whole world, and if you do I'll buy the company and bankrupt it so you won't have a job to go to. But it's because I love you so much and I'm so afraid something will happen to you." Shudders. I just wasn't ok with it in this book.
(eta: And the hickey thing when they were on their honeymoon???? Juvenile, petty, mean, vindictive. I hated it. I would have fucking killed him.)
Fifty's possessiveness, aggressiveness and control issues were getting pretty old by the middle of this story. Watching Ana run around constantly trying to discern if he was angry with her, and changing her behaviour to fit his moods was much worse in this book than the second -- what was vaguely unsettling in Fifty Shades Darker became downright disturbing in Fifty Shades Freed. I should do a Kindle search for "please don't be mad at me". Together with "Holy Fuck" and "I love this man" they make up a good portion of the book.
And Ana didn't sit much better with me this time around, either. Her voice as narrator, which resonated so much with me in the first 2 books, grated on me this time. Other reviews complained of how immature she sounds; I finally agree. Frankly, I got tired of hearing how much she "loved this man", this "beautiful man", her husband, her Fifty. It seemed to me that after 2 books of hearing how she can't believe someone that physically beautiful could love her that it would be toned down a bit. To me, it seemed to have been cranked up even higher in this book. She doesn't say it to herself as much as she did, but her actions and her words and even the way she thinks of Christian screams it.
("Ohferchrissakes," I remember thinking. "You let him shave your snatch but you won't PEE in front of him? How do you ever expect to build a marriage with him?")
It all seemed so over the top, almost hokey, all surface declarations of this all-consuming passionate love and I wasn't really buying it this time around. They both seemed desperate, and for each step they took forward, they slid backwards twice as far.
The epilogue and the HEA were nice, but I felt like it could easily have been an add-on to the second book and we could have skipped this one entirely.
Damn, this could easily turn into a rant. Me stop now.
Barely 3 stars -- the cover rounded up the 2.5 I would have given it otherwise. (less)
First things first -- this is without a doubt, hands down, shout from the rooftops the best romance I've read this year.
Second thing - you have to ign...moreFirst things first -- this is without a doubt, hands down, shout from the rooftops the best romance I've read this year.
Second thing - you have to ignore the cover, because it's HORRIBLE. (That babe holding the handcuffs looks like Paula Abdul -- **shudders**).
Oh, and another thing - chuck the synopsis. Doesn't really do the book justice. All that sex they're talking about happens (hoo, boy, does it EVER!) but imho this book is a love story, plain and simple.
Beautifully written, this one grabbed me at the first paragraph and kept me up till 3:00am reading it all in one sitting, with tears in my eyes when I got to the end. I re-read it again today, and again, I'm blinking furiously and sniffling when I get to the words "the end". I want my own Hunter Anderson, dammit.
Now that we have all of that out of the way, I'm out of words. Thanks to my friend, Uniquely Moi Dhestiny, for writing a kick-ass review that got me interested.
And because I can't find the words to describe how very good this book was, I'm going to point you to some ladies who said it better than I ever could (including Dhes, who's up first), and all I can say for each one is, "What she said."
Well, she says (she being me, what the heck, let's try this in the third person), this one was a little different. And so much more than I expected.
Th...moreWell, she says (she being me, what the heck, let's try this in the third person), this one was a little different. And so much more than I expected.
This book showed up on my updates recently (I know, I said third person, but that POV switch is hard!) when some friends started talking about it so I snagged a copy to see what was up.
The cover itself is a little deceiving - contrary to what I would have thought from the image this is actually a historical romance. An erotic historical, to be sure, but a very angsty one.
I won't say much about the story other than to say that it was unique and unlike most romances I've read. (The only book that even comes close is The Fulfillment by LaVyrle Spencer, but that one is only remotely similar.) The situation the characters found themselves in was believable, and the solution they find to the problem they face is believable as well.
Where it really turned from an enjoyable, steamy way to while away a couple of hours to an angsty, unforgettable story for me was mid-way through. (view spoiler)[We discover that the reason that Angus knows Emily so well is because he was to have been betrothed to her, and the reason that he wasn't was that her father and brothers were killed at Culloden where he fought beside them. He was captured, his lands and title stripped from him and he was sold to the Earl of Callender as an indentured servant. (hide spoiler)] That cranked the book up a couple of notches in my estimation. The "twist" overcame any problems I was having with the characters being a bit two-dimensional.
I really enjoyed this one -- it made my heart hurt a bit.
(And because for me these books are all about the men, Angus is seriously hot.)