Pub Date: September 2015
Publisher: St. Martins
Length: 356 pages
FTC: Received for free at RT15
This month's theme is recommended read, and this was a book that was receiving a ton of buzz on social media and at the convention last year. As usual with highly talked about books: this one did not live up to expectations. No surprise there.
I can see why people liked the book. I mean, it definitely is different than the overwhelming majority of today's historical romance. Very much in the style of Elizabeth Hoyt. But...what starts out as a great, gritty, highly emotional story veers way too deeply into melodrama for my personal preference. The first few chapters are amazingly good, but the rest of the book fails to live up to that promise.
My other issue with the book is that it seems to be a call back to the bodice rippers of the 1980s. The language, the tone...everything. One scene in particular has questionable consent and ran afoul of my own personal line of acceptability. I realize that "dark" romance is the current trend, but I didn't think this scene was a) needed or b) sufficiently explained. Her hands are tied with a drape pull back, then:
"He jerked her toward him, cutting off her protest with his lips. Letting her feel the true strength of his hands for the firs time as they shackled her arms. He could break her. So easily. Her bones were so small, like a bird's, her skin so soft and translucent. The tiny webs of blue veins on her wrists and throat so delicate in contrast to the thicker ones pulsing beneath his skin.Then he proceeds to trap her hands over an iron window latch and takes her from behind. And afterwards, he dashes out of the castle all upset and leaves her there, still tied to the latch. Yeah, no.
How could someone so damned fragile hold the power to destroy a monster like him?
'You're mine! he snarled against her surrendering mouth. 'Only mine.'"
There's a lot of potential here, including the use of non-Mayfair settings throughout, but I just wasn't wowed. Instead, I found myself shaking my head and checking the copyright date. The over-the-top reactions, the language, and the plot all seemed to be retro-romance rather than something written with today's sensibilities. It wasn't awful, but I was really hoping for someone else like Hoyt instead of Catherine Coulter or Johanna Lindsey.
My Grade: C-
Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of Victorian London's wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who've wronged him...and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception-and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands...
But Farah is no one's puppet. She possesses a powerful secret-one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he'd long thought dead?