UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish's Reviews > Whitney, My Love

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught
Rate this book
Clear rating


This review contains spoilers -

Reading Whitney, My Love took me on such a roller coaster ride of emotions that I’ve been struggling with exactly how to review it and how to rate it. When I was upset and sobbing I wanted to give it a 1 star rating. When I was laughing, smiling and sighing, I wanted to give it a 5 star rating. Then it dawned on me – for Judith McNaught to be able to make me feel such a wide range of emotions – joy, despair, passion, pain, betrayal, hatred and love – and feel them deeply enough to bring me to tears more than just a couple of times, she must truly be an amazing author.

When writing Whitney’s role in the story, Ms. McNaught gave us such a well defined, deeply complex character, that I was able to understand and forgive all of her perceived shortcomings. Having been raised without a mother’s affection and gentle nurturing to guide her, her upbringing was overseen by a father who had taken little interest in her, leaving her to her own devices only to chastise and criticize her when she disappointed him. I loved the young girl, and her adventurous nature - her unabashed ‘love’ for Paul Sevarin and her sneaky little tricks to draw his attention. No stunt was too outlandish as long as he noticed her. My heart ached for her upon learning that her father was sending her to France to live with an aunt and uncle because he was simply at his wits end with her. Whitney didn’t know it at the time, but that was the best thing that could have happened to her. Her aunt and uncle both adored her and for the last few years of her ‘childhood’ gave her a taste of what a real, loving family felt like. She grew up to become an accomplished young woman – beautiful, sophisticated and confident. When her father finally and most unexpectedly sends for her to return home to England, she is thrilled. She would miss her aunt and uncle desperately, but she wanted to hurry home and show her father that she had become a woman he could be proud of – and of course to show Paul Sevarin the same thing and to once again begin her pursuit of him with increased fervor. What she doesn’t know, and doesn’t find out for awhile, is that her father has betrothed her to another man.

Whitney returns home and immediately begins going out into Society where she meets one Clayton Westmorland who just happens to live but a few miles away from her. He is a handsome but annoying man who is pursuing her with the same fervor in which she is pursuing Paul. In the beginning she is extremely irritated by him but eventually comes to see him as a friend, but because he learns that Paul is about to ask for her hand in marriage, it becomes necessary to tell her the truth – that she was, in Whitney’s words, sold to Clayton, a man she could barely tolerate to pay off her father’s debts. It had been Clayton’s plan to keep their betrothal a secret – even from her because he wanted to woo her, to make her come to care for him on her own without having to force her into the marriage. But the truth had to come out, she learned that Clayton Westland was actually Clayton Westmoreland, Duke of Claymore and from that point on, everything went to hell in the proverbial hand basket.

Sadly, there was very little, if any, background to Clayton’s character and the story suffered because of it. He first appears at a masquerade ball – wearing a mask – where he approaches Whitney, flirts outrageously with her and decides he must have her. Time passes, but he goes about finding out everything he can about her and learns of her father’s dire financial situation. Clayton approaches the father and a betrothal contract is drawn up for a tidy £100,000 but again, he wants to keep this a secret so that his independent, free spirited fiancé won’t get her panties in a bunch. Sorry, Clay – you must have known there was no way to prevent that. I have to give him credit, though – he really did try hard to earn her affection. He watched her throw herself at Paul, behave outlandishly, defy his wishes and still tried to make her care for him. He put up with a lot from her, and he did it understanding that she had just had her entire life turned upside down. All the hopes and dreams she had had as a young girl were erased by his and her father’s signatures on a contract. He really was being very patient and understanding.

For awhile.

This is where I begin having trouble with the story in general and not because of a plot deficiency of any sort. The problem for me is that Ms. McNaught failed to explain to me why Clayton suddenly turned into such an ass. Granted, there were some misunderstandings that took place, but instead of asking Whitney about them, he lashed out and I could find no excuse for these behaviors. I’ll try to explain what I mean: He was raised in a clearly loving home by parents who cared deeply for their children and each other. He was wealthy and never had to go without food, clothing or shelter. He was respected not merely because he was a Duke but because he deserved it. So why was he so distrustful and so easily angered? We can’t say it was because he was spoiled and used to getting whatever he wanted, because while yes, he did live a life of means and leisure, he also handled the maintenance of his estates, took care of his tenants, invested his own monies …he worked hard – not at all like the self absorbed titled noblemen we read so much about. Even after they finally married, he wasn’t able to trust her – it makes no sense to me – maybe I’m dense but I like to have it all laid out in black and white.

Eventually I did forgive him for the way he had treated her; forcing himself on her because he assumed other men had already ‘known’ her – which was no excuse – accusing her of having cheated on him because of a vague letter he found and rather than confronting her about it, he treats her like a common whore, saying humiliating things to her. Thankfully, after he calms down he realizes that there was no way she could possibly have done what he was accusing her of but by then it was too late. I was deeply moved by the scene where he had finally found out where Whitney had been staying after she left him, went to her, humbled himself before her by bathing her and drying her and attending her as a servant would – however, I didn’t finish the book with a feeling of absolute conviction that he could remain a changed man. The reason being that Ms. McNaught failed to convince me that his horrid actions were born of a troubled past or any other reason than he was just an ass. I suppose I can imagine that he changed because he realized how important she was to him and if he wanted to keep her he would have to change, but as a reader I need more than that – I needed to be able to empathize with him but that just wasn’t there and it is for this reason and this reason only that I was firmly convinced that Whitney, My Love was deserving of a 3.5 star rating from me rather than the 4 it would have gotten had Clayton’s character been as fully developed as Whitney’s had been. But it was the last chapter of the book that convinced me to give this 4.5 stars.

My absolute favorite parts of the story occur in chapter 42 when we are unexpectedly swept back in time to revisit Royce and Jennifer Westmoreland from A Kingdom of Dreams. After their wedding, when they return home, Clayton presents his new bride, Whitney, to his family, staff and friends, he leans down and tells her that what he is about to do is a family tradition and he then repeats the very words spoken by Royce when he presented his abducted bride, Jennifer, to his own family, friends and staff: “Behold your new mistress, my wife. And know that when she bids you, I have bidden you; what service you render her, you are rendering me; what loyalty you give or withhold from her, you give or withhold from me.”

And then once again, when Whitney is ‘lying-in’ after giving birth to Noel, we see another family tradition which Alicia, the dowager duchess called “the loveliest of all the traditions in the family” being carried out when Clayton and Alicia show her a ‘treasure chest’ which contains the writings beginning with Jennifer Westmoreland, and continued down through 7 more generations of the Duchesses recounting the tale of how each had met her husband. The Duke’s contribution through each successive generation was a likeness of his new bride, one if his choosing which he feels most accurately represents her appearance. As Whitney looked through the box, she chose what looked to be the oldest letter and began reading:

“I am Jennifer Merrick Westmoreland, Duchess of Claymore, wife of Royce Westmoreland and mother of William, born to us on the third day of January. I send you my loving greetings…” Whitney went on to read Jennifer’s telling of jousts and tournaments and battles fought by her husband “The Black Wolf.” The things she wrote about were not the things that would interest men, instead she wrote in great detail the things that would be important to women. She wrote of her outrage at being abducted by Royce from her family home then being forced to marry him. She wrote of all the things she thought the future Duchesses of Claymore would want to hear, but most importantly and what shone brightest through it all, she wrote of her love for her husband. Then we read: She ended her letter with an explanation that she was putting a likeness of herself in the chest with her scroll so that her future daughter in laws might know her face. “When I told my lord husband of my need for a small likeness and my plan for this chest to pass down through the generations, he commissioned an artist and presented me with this miniature. It is most flattering,” she confided modestly. “My eyes are not so large, nor my features so fine, but my husband swears it is a perfect likeness. It was also his thought that my name should be engraved upon the back of the frame so that if my hopes for this chest come about, then you will be able to find my face among the many likenesses of all the duchesses of Claymore contained within this chest. I pray that each of your husbands will do as mine has done. I only wish that I could know your faces.”

Later that evening, after Noel had fallen asleep, it was Whitney’s turn and as the 9th Duchess of Claymore, she begins writing her own story to add to the treasure chest and when she finished, it was time for Clayton to perform his part of the tradition by adding a likeness of his wife which he has inscribed on the back, “Whitney—my wife and my love.”

Note: I read Until You, Stephan Westmoreland’s book and really enjoyed the story and the part Clayton plays in it. He seems to be a different man – perhaps he was able to truly change and become the man Whitney deserved and the man he, himself, deserved to be.

134 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Whitney, My Love.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

02/18 page 9
02/19 page 186
26.27% "This book is so full of 'trouble just waiting to happen.'"
02/19 page 212
29.94% "This is going to get ugly, but I have to give Clayton credit. He's trying to woo her, to make her care for him before she finds out..." 3 comments
02/19 page 291
41.1% "I'm finding myself quite enamoured with Clayton" 3 comments
02/19 page 435
61.44% "Well... my enamouredness is over - Clayton is quite the ass."
02/20 page 490
69.21% "I don't know if I can keep reading this. Is there a HEA?" 2 comments
02/20 page 639
90.25% "Things were so much better - but now...?"
02/24 marked as: own-have-read

Comments (showing 1-50 of 154) (154 new)

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) This is quite the book. I don't think anyone I know is 'meh' about it. You either love it or hate it.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Danielle, I'm not sure what to think. I was already sobbing - and this before Whitney had even left for Paris! My daughter sat down and put her arm around me. LOL I just HATE horrible parents. HATE HATE HATE them!

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thank you - it's better so far. Lots of trouble in the making, but better.

Stamatia Saw the one star, what can I say? Join the club! :(

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish I didn't rate it yet, I don't know why it's showing a star. I need to go clear that.

message 7: by Adrienne (new)

Adrienne I'm interested to see what you thought about this one. Did you read the original version or the revised one?

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish I read the revised one and just posted my review. What an emotional read!

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) Incredible review, UM. I can understand where you were coming from. It's one of those books I rated highly because it's an absorbing read. But it's very frustrating to read, and Clayton treated Whitney very badly. Although she sometimes acted young (but really her age, if you think about it---I taught 19 year olds and they act like her), he was more immature than she was, IMHO.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thanks, Danielle! It really is a great read, but as you say, frustrating. As a reader I need that background information to be able to forgive and forget a character's flaws, but because there was so little to go on, while I was able to forgive, I'm finding it harder to forget. Does that make sense?

Whitney was well enough developed as a character that I was more easily able to forgive her flaws because I understood where she was coming from - but still, she's not my favorite heroine.

I may make a notation that this is a 4.5/5.0 read. I wish we had that option!

message 11: by Rane (new)

Rane Another Great Review UM, This is one of those books am staying away from, both leads were kinda off in left field for me and I just couldn't get into the story and later dropped it after a few chapers.

message 12: by Adrienne (new)

Adrienne Fantastic review UM I haven't been able to get hold of a copy of either version but will certainly snaffle one up if I see one....I wouldn't mind reading the original version, although I recall reading somewhere that Clayton physically abuses Whitney.

message 13: by UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish (last edited Feb 23, 2010 03:00PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Rane wrote: "Another Great Review UM, This is one of those books am staying away from, both leads were kinda off in left field for me and I just couldn't get into the story and later dropped it after a few chap..."

Thank you, Rane!

This was an emotionally powerful read. I've never cried so hard while reading a book, except one other time while reading Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon and I don't know anyone who wasn't torn up by that book.

message 14: by UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish (last edited Feb 23, 2010 03:10PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Adrienne wrote: "Fantastic review UM I haven't been able to get hold of a copy of either version but will certainly snaffle one up if I see one....I wouldn't mind reading the original version, although I recall re..."

Awww, thanks Adrienne! I know there are a couple of things that happened in this version that were brow-raisers for me, but this is fiction and back in their time men were allowed to do certain things that would be considered abuse today... but the revised version was toned down a bit. I've been tempted to try and find an older one to compare the newer one to. Sometimes we need to step back and remember that this is a work of fiction, ya know? But honestly, this was one of the most emotionally draining books I've read and that's not a bad hing because I went in knowing it was going to be intense.

As I was telling a friend, and I know you'll understand what I mean... don't read a vampire novel if you hate vampires and then give it a bad review. If you're looking for a light, fluffy historical, don't read Whitney and give it a bad review because it wasn't a feel good novel.

You know my aversion to anal sex in books, but when I read a book that has that, I try not to let it cloud my judgement of the book as a whole, and write my review based on the writing, the characters, etc. It would be unfair to readers and the author if I picked up a book knowing I wouldn't like certain content and then bashed the entire book. Did any of that make sense?

And here I am rambling and it probably doesn't seem to relate to my review, but in my mind I know it does. LOL

MelissaB I read the original version without the letters to the Duchess (which sounds really nice) and the worse rape scene. I honestly can't really say what I feel about this book beyond remembering that Clayton drove me crazy when he distrusted her the final time, it was the straw that broke my back. But I must say that about 14 years later I still remember a few parts of the story which says something about it's staying power. I can't read McNaught anymore because I can't stand all the drama and big misunderstandings but I do occasionally reread the great endings.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish MelissaB, I have reread the ending twice already. It is, as I said, one of my favorite parts of the book. I LOVE A Kingdom of Dreams - but even in that one there was so much misunderstanding due to miscommunication and distrust... but so far it's my favorite McNaught read which is probably why the 2 traditions scenes (which came from KoD) touched me so deeply.

I just finished Until You, and I really liked it. It was an emotional cake walk compared to WML LOL

message 17: by Lynsey A (new)

Lynsey A I actually haven't read the revised version, just the original. I actually have one of the original books with the dramatic cover. (Tried to find it here but couldn't). Anyway, I love those old covers so I was excited to find it.

Thanks, Dhestiny for a wonderful review. I am definitely intrigued about the Duchess letters since, as MelissaB mentions, were not in the original.

I'm in the Love camp for Whitney, My Love. Although, it's been years since I read it, actually. I think maybe I need to do a re-read to see if my opinion changes, though I doubt it. Besides, with all the books in my TBR pile it's hard to justify a re-read of a book right now. I try and read Pride & Prejudice once a year but haven't managed that in awhile. :)

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thank you, Lynsey. I thought it was really good and as I said, my only problem was that Clayton wasn't fully developed as a character, in my opinion.

I hope you can get a copy of the revised version. The letters scene was very touching, especially if you read and loved A Kingdom of Dreams as I did.

message 19: by Linds (new) - added it

Linds Thank you for such a detailed review! I really enjoy your reviews and perceptions. I've only read Kingdom of Dreams and I'm looking forward to reading this.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish You're welcome, Linds and thank YOU for such kind words!!! Whitney, My Love is a book that does not allow for ambivalence - you either love it or hate it, but if you want to love it, read it with an open mind, and a WHOLE lot of tissues nearby!

message 21: by Linds (new) - added it

Linds That's good to know going into it so I can be prepared. The only thing I didn't like about Untouched is that the heroine is a bit annoying in the very last chapter and puts an unnecessary barrier between them, but it doesn't last. :) I can see why that part annoys a lot of people in the comments that I've seen.

Aisyah UniquelyMoi *~*Dhestiny*~* wrote: "Danielle, I'm not sure what to think. I was already sobbing - and this before Whitney had even left for Paris! My daughter sat down and put her arm around me. LOL I just HATE horrible parents. HATE..."

hi, i'm a newbie. when i read this comment, i was delightful to know that there is some other person like me- sobbing before Whitney even went to paris. i too HATE HATE HATE bad parents. but, in the end, at the wedding i learn to forgive her father on his confession to whitney.

really2 love your review. it dropped a tear reading it too!

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thank you, Aisyah!!! The book was very moving, wasn't it? It's one of those rare stories that will stay with me forever.

Aisyah yes indeed UM! my emotions were like on a roller coaster reading this book. i am now reading Until You, and i am liking it as well. but WML will always be my best historical romance!

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Did you read Kingdom of Dreams? I LOVED that one, though I wasn't sure how Jennifer would ever redeem herself in my eyes.

Aisyah that is actually my plan after finishing until you. hmm, after that i am trying to find Holidy of Love- Miracles.. but i dont know whether i can find it here in Malaysia. ooo.. JM really made me fall in love with the characters!

Samantha For Jennifer needing to redeem herself, were you referring to her sitting on her family's side instead of the English side for the tournament? (*God I LOVE that book! Favorite book of all time!*)

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Samantha, yes, that and her attitude throughout the book. She finally did redeem herself there on the "battlefield" and I sobbed. Up until then I as hoping she'd get run through. LOL

Now, granted, Royce wasn't a peach the whole time, but he really, really did try.

message 29: by UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish (last edited May 21, 2010 09:17AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Aisyah, If you're looking for Holiday of Love for Nicks story, don't knock yourself out. I was very, very disappointed in it. VERY disappointed. Most people I know who read it for him were. I wrote a brief review here:

Samantha Yeah, I thought she needed to cut him a little slack, I didn't think she needed to "redeem" herself until that moment when she didn't publicly choose her husbands' country. I definitely didn't like her doing that, however I felt I had to take into account how she felt in regards to the death of her half brother. She truly was devastated and her attitude afterwards, in my opinion was understandable. However, I did sympathize with Royce after he realized what he'd done and I believe that she obviously shut him out way too long for him to allow her relatives and countrymen to nearly kill him on the "mock" battlefield. I thought that scene where she runs onto the field and does what she does.. (don't totally wanna spoil it. lol) well, I thought that was the most beautiful scene ever. It was heart wrenchingly sweet. I loved it. =]

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish ***SPOILERS**** I was irked with her, but I get what you're saying about him. In the beginning he wasn't a saint either! But the things her family pulled were so ridiculous that I couldn't blame him for not trusting her and taking her away to get married. That was pretty funny, honestly.***END SPOILER***

Samantha ***SPOILERS*** Well, I thought what she did by escaping him at the camp was hilarious! It was sad about what happened to his horse but I mean, I liked that she was brave enough to pull off an escapade like that in the first place when if she had been anything like her half-sister Brenna she wouldn't have been able to pull it off. I thought that both got a raw deal though after her brother rescued her. Both countries were having a good laugh at Jennifer and Royce and I hated that for them.. Then again, at least one wasn't more humiliated than the other. It was equal on both parts. ***END SPOILER***

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish I agree, Sam!!! I thought that part was great, too, but also very, very sad. And she realized it.

Aisyah ahh, reading your comments is making me excited to start KOD but i need a rest from the historical and now reading Paradise. maybe after Paradise, i'll start KOD. i sooo love WML and UY. and i certainly feel that im gonna like KOD.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish KoD was probably my favorite, with WML a close second.

Samantha me too dhestiny!!!! also,, Something Wonderful. I read that a few months ago.. It was AMAZING

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish That's another one I need to read, Something Wonderful.


So many books, so little time!

Samantha I know exactly what you mean. Not to mention that I'm trying to write one of my own at the moment and hope to finish it by the end of the summer.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Good luck with that!!! I started a novel about a year ago and between family and health problems I've not finished it yet. :(

message 40: by Samantha (last edited May 23, 2010 09:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Samantha Yeah, I started mine last May but I haven't been able to work on it very much because of school work. I've got a couple of weeks before I start SummerI but thankfully, after that ends, I'll be free to work on it as much as I want. I'm graduating in late August =] I hope to finish it by then so that I can turn it in to a competition that the RWA has for non-published writers

 Lady Jayne *~*The Beach Bandida*~* UniquelyMoi *~*Dhestiny*~* wrote: "That's another one I need to read, Something Wonderful.


So many books, so little time!"

Dhestiny, I know you loved Kingdom of Dreams, but Something Wonderful and Almost Heaven are my fave McNaughts. Though I know about having so many books too read and not enough time. Hope you get to these soon though. And also Once and Always. These 4 are my fave of her historicals.

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Thank you, Lady Jayne! I have them here, I just need to be in the mood for the HR again.

Samantha, seriously, good luck. I wish you all the best in your writing efforts. I know how hard it can be.

Samantha Thanks so much!! I truly appreciate it! =]

Jasmin @unique, i love your review. I love this book! I love Judith Mcnaught! No matter what they say about it, this was an eyeopener for me. This book changed my world. *dreamy eyed* :)

Aisyah hey jasmin, did you cried your heart out with this one? hahaha. try reading the sequel- Until You, its much lighter. but like Dhestiny, i love KOD because its hilarious. :)

Dhestiny, im wondering.. is there a way for me to track YOUR reviews? i think i like your style and choice of books. :)

Jasmin Aisyah wrote: "hey jasmin, did you cried your heart out with this one? hahaha. try reading the sequel- Until You, its much lighter. but like Dhestiny, i love KOD because its hilarious. :)"

I think I even cried part of my soul away. I'm a devout follower of Judith McNaught and no book of hers was left unread. My favorite is ALMOST HEAVEN. Kingdom of Dreams ranks 2 :)

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Aisyah wrote: "
Dhestiny, im wondering.. is there a way for me to track YOUR reviews? i think i like your style and choice of books. :) ."

Thanks, Aisyah, that was very flattering!

I think if you go to add me as a friend, there's an option to follow my reviews, or you can friend request me if you want. If we're already friends, then go into your friends list and edit me and make me a top friend. Then you'll see my reviews on your homepage!!

message 48: by UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish (last edited Jun 30, 2010 09:24PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Jasmin,

Thank you! This is really an amazing story. There were many times I had to stop and catch my breath. The emotional turmoil was just so, so... emotional! LOL

I haven't read Almost Heaven yet. Is it really amazing?

Jasmin For me it even surpasses amazing.

It dethroned A Kingdom of Dreams from the Top spot of being my favorite book.

I hope you try it some time and tell me what you think about it.

It's the book w/c I cried the most buckets. And even after rereading, it never fails to make me cry and laugh.

I hope you'll like it the same way I did :)

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish *sigh* I guess I should move it up the list. LOL

« previous 1 3 4
back to top