From powerful love to sizzling passion, Julia London always delivers an incomparable listening experience. Returning to her acclaimed Cabot Stepsisters series, we meet an earl who can only be tamed by one wicked lady.
A plan born of desperation
Once the toast of society, Grace Cabot and her sisters now await the shame of losing high status and fine luxuries upon the death of the Earl of Beckington. The dire circumstances are inevitable unless, of course, Grace's wicked plot to seduce a wealthy viscount into marriage goes off without a single hitch. But once a stolen embrace with the wrong man leads her to be discovered in the arms of Jeffrey, the Earl of Merryton, her plan takes a most unexpected - and scorching - twist - and altered by passion. Governed by routine and ruled by duty, Jeffrey had no desire for a wife before he succumbed to Grace's temptation. Though his golden-haired, in-name-only bride is the definition of disorder, he can't resist wanting her in every way. But once her secrets meet his, society might consider their lives to be ruined beyond repair - while Jeffrey might just see it as a new beginning.
©2014 Dinah Dinwiddie (P)2014 Recorded Books
This book was quite different from many I have read in regency romance. As you will see from other reviews, mental illness was certainly part of the story, but not in a bad way. What really surprised me, was the sex scenes being so steamy!...shades of grey in regency England!...certainly worked for me ;-)
"Not your normal romance book"
This book is based on the man's fantasies of bondage, whipping women, multiple women and more. The woman feels she has to sumitro these activities in order to relieve him of his "demons". It is quite an uncomfortable book to listen to and honestly I could not finish it. I was disappointed since I liked the first of this series pretty well.
"Not my favorite..."
I am listening to this series in reverse order and have to say I much preferred #3.
I do have to compliment the author for bringing in conflicts that are far out of the ordinary for historical romances. This particular one touched on mental illness--not debilitating to the point of institutionalization, but the sort of life impacting, long suffering sort that many people endure while remaining mostly functional. I applaud that sort of plot innovation.
What dimmed my enjoyment was that the sexual relationship between the two characters was, to me, pretty creepy, at least in the beginning. There are some lines crossed regarding consent, equality and control that I found off-putting. I usually don't feel such strong distaste (enough to mention it in a public review!) but...yeah. That was so not healthy, what was going on at first.
I admit I might be over sensitive because I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I consider myself fully recovered, but this book's intimate scenes were super "triggery" in a way I haven't encountered in a very, very long time. If you are like me in that regard, or if you have very strong feminist leanings (in which case you're unlikely to read romances anyway), I would advise avoidance of this title.
I read a review by Cynthia stating that the heroine was annoying because she was self-centered. I listened to this book and am really confused by that observation. The heroine, Grace, is even described by her sister as being the one sister who cares and has the most empathy because of the way she's always rescuing animals and people who are hurting or flawed. Grace was a beautiful person. she had wonderful intuition with regard to her husband's mental issues.
The entire story was beautifully told. All the critical elements for me were there; romance, steamy love scenes, engaging and deep characters. Interesting plot and, of course, an excellent narrator. Ms. Landor never disappoints.
"Really Mixed Feelings on this Novel"
Yes, overall I'd say it was time well spent. It's obvious Julia London is a very talented author. Her characters are engaging and her stories flow nicely.
She was amazing as always!
Okay, so this is the thing. These characters are VERY flawed.. Which can make a story so engaging and interesting, so that in itself was not all that bad. However, the heroine was flawed in a way that made her very unlikable to me. She was very self involved and lacked empathy for anyone else, especially the hero. This could have changed by the end of the novel, as I couldn't get past about half way through due to my frustration... I was so aggravated by that point I didn't even care. It wasn't worth finding out if she redeemed herself in the end.
It was especially annoying since the novel seemed to point to the hero the antagonist in the story. He was the one with the disorder and he was really messed up and confused. His behavior was very wrong in so many ways, but while I felt as though his faults were a main focus in the story, I felt like her faults were passed off as having a spunky and cute personality. It went past the point as being spunky. It was often mean.
As someone who struggles through Obsessive Compulsive Disorder on a daily basis, for over a decade, I will admit that perhaps my point of view is a little biased when it comes to interpreting the hero's faults compared to the heroine's. My OCD presents itself very differently than the hero's, but I could relate to his humiliation from his disorder and how painful it can be to try to hide it and face judgment of people who don't understand. Yes, his behavior was often despicable, but I feel like his motivations came from a place of suffering and confusion. Her motivations seemed to come from selfishness and being unnecessarily judgmental.
Since I recognize that my biased viewpoint could have been more to blame in my not enjoying this book than the story itself, I could see how anyone without a thorn in their paw might really enjoy this story and not even think anything of the heroine's behavior. Because of that, I'd say YES, this novel is worth the credit and the writing itself is very good. London's novels are worth the risk. She's written some great novels.
"I give this 3.5"
3.5 really, thanks to Rosalyn Landor's narration. This was a good book. Not quite a "spend your last Audible credit" book but a good book. The characters are flawed and that's not a bad thing in a romance. Jeffrey's OCD may be a bit overdone but it's probably true to life. His other obsession kept me a bit skeptical of how that would play out but that turned out okay. I wonder if Grace's mother's illness could be from the injury rather than dementia? The series is good and the dialogue can be quite fun. I'll wait patiently for the next book.
Rosalyn Landor never disappoints, give her a good book to read and magic happens. Miss London and Miss Landor are a winning combination. Please do it again soon.
A Dedicated listener,
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