TJ's Reviews > Once and Always

Once and Always by Judith McNaught
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's review
Aug 16, 2010

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bookshelves: historical-romance

In terms of writing ability and talent, Judith McNaught will always be a 5 star for me. Her gift for drawing the reader into the very emotions of the characters is amazing! As is her ability to reveal all the layers of the soul, bit by bit until discovery and redemption are not only found but felt.

As with all things, with great gifts come great responsibilities, however. If we, the readers, are drawn into the heart of a tortured soul, we need also be allowed to experience the process of redemption with him/her (ipso facto the romance part) In "Once and Always", I don't believe we were adequately given that. Jason is a deeply tortured soul who treats the innocent and kind-hearted Victoria despicably, using every cruel method he can find to push her away, while shackling her to him at the same time. Victoria doesn't understand and tries all she can think of to soften and heal him to no avail. McNaught's gift with emotions made this very hard to read. It all would be worth it, however, if we could see and feel Jason's remorse and restitution on his road to redemption as thoroughly as we see his atrocities.

Unfortunately redemption came with very little explanation (can someone PLEASE tell me how having sex again right after raping someone will make it all better?) with the heroine immediately capitulating (no argument whatsoever) and riding happily into the sunset. That just leaves a bad taste in the mouth, in spite of the near-redeeming incident in the last few pages (which ALMOST raised this to a 4 star).
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
August 16, 2010 – Shelved
August 16, 2010 – Shelved as: historical-romance

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Nissie (new)

Nissie I enjoyed your review,Tammy! I've often asked myself the same question. How does sex cure all?! Not only rape, but the hero can spend pages insulting, belittling and sometimes just destroying her and then he kisses her and she just melts at his feet!! I don't get it!

message 2: by TJ (new) - rated it 3 stars

TJ It drives me nuts! (can 'ya tell?!?) That has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves when reading romance. That is EXACTLY what happens in this book, if it weren't for that this would have been an awesome story.

Tammy Walton Grant As always, Tam, you are able to take a book that I've read and show me something about it that I've never thought of before - I tend fall for the hero and never examine his actions all that closely. With Jason, you're absolutely right. But also, what does it say about the heroine? Or perhaps, it actually says more about the author than about anyone else.

message 4: by Nissie (new)

Nissie It's very frustrating! I've read many books that would have been at the top of my favorites list, had it not been for those same situations!

message 5: by Karla (new)

Karla I've only read Whitney My Love, but I was disappointed with it because JM did such a great job with period detail, but the romance and main characters were lacking. It seems that in most books either the setting OR the characters get done right, but getting both done equally well is far more rare.

Shawna I'm glad to hear this isn't one of McNaught's most endearing heroes or reads because Jason's treatment of Victoria really pissed me off. But I liked her writing, so I'm hoping I'll like the next book I read by her a bit better.

Katrina Y I totally agree with you on this one Tammy, i love how Ms. McNaught writes her books, but I really don't like how Jason treats Victoria in the story. And I've been so bothered by the rape that I don't think Jason still deserves Victoria after that

message 8: by TJ (new) - rated it 3 stars

TJ Thank you, Katrina! I remember being so upset at that rape scene, especially after everything else he had done to her, I wanted so badly for him to do SOMETHING to actually make it up to her and show the reader he had actually redeemed himself and was worthy of her. I also agree, he didn't deserve her the way it was.

Leona I so agree with you. This is my least favorite because I could not get past what Jason did.

message 10: by TJ (new) - rated it 3 stars

TJ Yep, Leona! It was doubly frustrating because she is so darn good at drawing you in and caring about the characters!

Leona True, and I really did love Victoria. I thought she deserved so much better than Jason and his uncle!

message 12: by Sarah (last edited Mar 30, 2016 09:04AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sarah Z Sorry I am so late to the game with this comment lol.. but I had to because I completely agree with your review! I adore HR and finally discovered Judith McNaught, my first two books being Kingdom of Dreams and Whitney, My Love. I fell in love with the books and her writing. After reading Whitney (which I admit was a tough pill to swallow at first) I almost expected the rape in Once and Always, which is sad lol, but it made it less appalling. However, like you mentioned the worst of it the fact that Jason was never really redeemed. So IMO the big faults of this story which kept it from being one of my favorite HRs was 1. I really had no need of Sybill and hated the fact that the author hinted at him being with her AFTER they were married. I can't deal with cheating in romance novels. 2. I wish the author did away with Andrew, once he came to her towards the end, I had this sadness that she didn't end up with him and should have. If the author wanted us to rally for the hero, why make us like someone else better? and 3. This book was in major need of an Epilogue! That might have given us, the readers, that explanation of redemption we desperately needed to feel of Jason.

The one thing I did like about this book is that at least Jason's past somewhat explained why he was such an ass. In Whitney, My Love, for any of the fans out there, Clayton was an ass for no reason..

message 13: by TJ (new) - rated it 3 stars

TJ Sarah wrote: "Sorry I am so late to the game with this comment lol.. but I had to because I completely agree with your review! I adore HR and finally discovered Judith McNaught, my first two books being Kingdom ..."
Oh my gosh, Sarah, I completely agree!! It is SO frustrating when we love an author's writing so much but can't even fathom why she does what she does with some of her characters. I was incredibly frustrated at the end of this book. It's nice to know I'm not alone!

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