Saturday, December 26, 2009
Silver-tongued Viscount Sanburne is London's favorite scapegrace. Alas, Lydia Boyce has no interest in being charmed. When his latest escapade exposes a plot to ruin her family, she vows to handle it herself, as she always has done. Certainly she requires no help from a too-handsome dilettante whose main achievement is being scandalous. But Sanburne's golden charisma masks a sharper mind and darker history than she realizes. He shocks Lydia by breaking past her prim facade to the woman beneath... and the hidden fire no man has ever recognized. But as she follows him into a world of intrigue, she will learn that the greatest danger lies within - in the shadowy, secret motives of his heart.
Coming off Ms. Duran's previous book, The Duke of Shadows which I totally loved, I was bound for a let down, and let down I was with Bound by Your Touch. I must be the only person out there that was not bowled over by this book! Let's just say, I am not into these ne'er do well reformed rake tales. When we first meet our hero, Viscount Sanburne, he's up to his neck in debauchery, living it up at a wild party, stoned on some kind of hallucinogetic drug. I found this a bit offsetting in an historical romance, albeit, it's the late 1800's. I'm a bit prudish when it comes to heroes. I'm all for lots of unmarried sex and a randy hero, but when he's smoking hash and taking LSD, umm, no. Still, I continued with the story to see just how Sanburne reforms, since I knew immediately, this was going to be one of those kind of stories. I'm just finding them a bit old and boring now. Plus, I had issue with his name. Not to be nitpicky, he's the Viscount Sanburne, but his given name is James. Often, I was confused, who was the author referring to at first? Who is James? I had to stop and think, it kept bobbing back and forth. Is he one of Sanburne's many dissolute friends? (I had trouble keeping track of them as well!) Back and forth, back and forth, sometimes he's Sanburne, sometimes he's James - confusing to say the least! Eventually, I wised up and realized when our heroine, the bespectacled bluetocking Lydia Boyce is referring to him, he's Sanburne. But, when we're following Sanburne himself and his thoughts, he's James. Duh, took me a while, but I finally caught on. ;)
On the surface, James' big problem and driving force is to get back at his father whom he can't stand. He blames him for his sister's present state in a mental asylum for murdering her husband who beat her. He believes his father is to blame for letting her remain married to the brute, and keeping her locked away from society. James' raison d'etre is now to get back at his father and drive him crazy - so he's a rake and an owner of factories (horrors!) and has no intention of settling down and producing an heir to carry on the family line. But, at the same time, James also blames himself for the plight of his sister. Not only is he punishing his father, he's punishing himself. James has a lot of familial issues. He goes through a sort of self flagellation, beating himself up by boxing, acting like a bored ne'er do well, do-nothing peer who doesn't care about anything, when really he does care about women and factory conditions and their life in the slums. Yet, he'd never admit to it or take credit for the good deeds he does. Instead, he drinks himself to oblivion to forget and tries to piss off his father who is also a collector of Egyptian antiquities.
What a coincidence, our heroine Lydia Boyce is an expert on Egyptian artifacts and sells them for her father who is an archeologist. She adores her father - the exact opposite of James. Irony plays a role here for as we learn by the end of the book, fathers are misunderstood and are not always what they seem. Lydia is the eldest of three daughters - and a spinster. Four years earlier, she is embarrassed to find out that after declaring her love to her suitor, George, she finds out that she's not the one he intends to marry - instead it's her younger sister, Sophie, he wants to marry! Four years later, Sophie and George are unhappily married, and Lydia is still unmarried. She throws herself in to her Egyptian work and is considered an expert in the field. Smart and intelligent - except when it comes to love - she suffers from an inferiority complex that she's unattractive and no one will ever want to marry her. Plus, all the ton knows that she had once been in love with her sister's husband who jilted her! How humiliatng! Deep down she has the ability to be wild and attractive, but alas, no one will probably ever get to see that side of her. Until she meets the Viscount Sanburne, of course.
She and James meet and tangle at once. They find each other annoying, yet both are drawn to each other in more ways than one. It turns out they have some things in common with their interest in Egyptian antiquities and they're forced to work together to get to the bottom of the mystery of who is trying to kill him and ruin her father's reputation as a scholar and antiquities dealer. Yet, although they're total opposites and an unlikely couple, they get along and he can't stop trying to seduce her. It's become a challenge to him to unveil the prim and proper miss Boyce. Despite her lacklustre protestations, they manage to have some romantic moments in some very unlikely and uncomforable places, like a London rooftop for one. I had trouble not rolling my eyes over it all. Unfortunately, I just didn't really like James' all that much and felt a bit embarrassed for Lydia. I had no sympathy for him and wanted him to get over himself and be smarter - I kept wishing Lydia could do better. By the time we find out the truth about him and he's really good, my mind had already written him off.
It all unfolds at the end and our hero and heroine come to terms with themselves and deal with the truths about their families. Lydia, of course, has this "I'm not good enough for you" martyred role, but James talks her into it and they are bound to live happily ever after. But, throughout it all, I just didn't really - care! It took me over a week to read this short romance and as much as the mechanics of the book and the story itself and the depth of the characters was good, I just wasn't into it.
Maybe you will be. Still, I do intend to read all Ms. Duran has written, for her first book was so good and I have high hopes she'll write another winner!