Saturday, January 24, 2009
Running wild . . .
When Cassandra Sheridan agreed to an arranged marriage to the Earl of Hampstead, she never dreamed the cad wouldn't even bother to appear for their betrothal ball. It seems her intended cares more for gallivanting than meeting his bride-to-be! So Cassie decides to enjoy an adventure of her own and sets out across Scotland…and meets a dashing stranger who has elevated dueling and deception to an art form.
A dedicated spy on a mission, the Earl of Hampstead has more on his mind than a silly party. Now fate has thrown him together with a vivacious lady whom he must protect from harm, and whose sensuous beauty is proving most distracting. Worse still, Devlyn is horrified to discover she's the very woman he's engaged to marry!
With their lives and reputations in equal peril, do they dare surrender to their irresistible desires?
Doesn't this sound like it would be a really fun romance to read? Mistaken identities (no matter how unlikely and implausible it all is) and love on the run, with excitement and danger? And in Scotland too! All I can say is, "Thank God, I finally finished this dull, dull romance!" It took me almost a week to read, which is unheard of for a short romance. I kept putting it down, taking a break, rolling my eyes and wishing I could just get it over with!
On the surface, this should have been an exciting, good story. Rich American heiress is stood up by her arranged marriage British fiance at their engagement ball. She runs off to Scotland to seek solace with her best friend who lives there. En route, she meets a mysterious secret agent type who turns out to be her fiance! Now, at this point, I thought this could be good. Kind of like an "It Happened One Night" theme going with a spy twist. But, it didn't go that way. Instead it turned into another secret agent/spy thing with the clueless heroine going through a love/hate relationship with the hero. Yawn. Still, I persevered, thinking, it's got to pick up soon. If only I actually liked the heroine, unfortunately, she bothered me. They are attracted to each other, yet she is repelled by him as well. Half way through the book, I'm still waiting for it to get good. While fleeing evil Russian cossacks they somehow have these near sex encounters in the woods, or in barns (even though he has this terrible injury in his shoulder). Finally, they do find a bedroom for an actual consummation of their pent up passion, though he's always fighting it to be honorable. She basically doesn't let him so no anymore and the deed is done (they're engaged anyway, so who cares?) They fall in love and then eventually marry in one long convoluted plot. But that's not even the end of it, it goes on from there.
It wasn't that the romance was bad, it just didn't grab me. The love scenes were ho-hum, I could not fathom what the H/H saw in each other and how they suddenly came to realize they loved one another! All of a sudden at some point, they realized "I'm in love!" Huh? Why? Where was the character development, what made them fall for each other - other than the danger they were constantly facing? I found no depth or emotion whatsoever. The hero was lacklustre, I barely recall what he's supposed to look like, except that he has dark hair. Plus, he was injured for over half of the book. Everytime they had some sort of passionate encounter, all I could think of was his bulky bandage and how much pain he must be in! The heroine (a Victorian virgin) had no qualms about letting him touch her, especially when she wasn't even sure if she liked him or not! There was no long sizzling build up in their romance between one another. I'd expect a little more hesitancy on her part with him, but after one kiss, she was his for the asking.
I was so disappointed I didn't enjoy this book, the writing wasn't bad, but there was no spark in it for me. The secondary characters were weak and undeveloped and the counterfeiting Maria Ivanov plotline was hard to follow. (I won't even try to go in to it here.) I had heard such great things about this book, it was rated so highly by others - what happened? Though it took place in Scotland, it wasn't about Scots, it was about British and Americans traveling in Scotland. Once again, I find I'm turned off by a story in which the setting is in Scotland, yet the hero isn't really Scottish! I guess I felt a little cheated - especially by the title. I can't help it, I have my standards. If the title says, Wild and Wicked in Scotland, I was expecting it to have more oomph than this forgetable spy romance.
Oh well, live and learn.