Saturday, February 6, 2010
He galloped across the midnight-shrouded landscape, racing toward her on his pure white steed.
In her wildest fantasies Desdemona Carlisle could not have conjured a more dashing savior, and this was real. But an unlikelier hero was hard to find. Harry Braxton was a rogue, a scoundrel, and a born opportunist who had already broken her heart once. How could she ever trust a notorious rake who came with a warning: lover, beware...
With her bronze-gold hair and quicksilver grace, the sloe-eyed beauty was every man's desire and one man's sole passion. But the secret that had made Harry an exile also made it impossible for him to offer Desdemona more that friendship. Until his aristocratic cousin laid siege to Desdemona's heart and Harry, damning the consequences, vowed to do anything, give anything, to claim her for him own...
I really enjoyed this romance!
Having no idea what I was in for, I loved this witty, evocative Victorian historical set in Cairo of the 1890's. Harry is surprisingly endearing as the rapscallion hero, and Desdemona (I preferred her nickname of "Dizzy") was delightful! The story is not your standard romance at all, both hero and heroine are already well acquainted with one another - flaws and all. Both are in love with each other, yet neither one of them is about to admit it to the other! They're both under the wrong impression that he doesn't want her, and she won't want him, but of course over the course of this charming romance, they realize how wrong they are and love triumphs over all!
Dizzy, orphaned as a young teenager, is a child prodigy in languages, she now earns money translating in twelve different languages. She lives with her grandfather, an Egyptian archeologist, in Cairo. There she has gotten to know many of the other internationals who are in the same related business, one of whom is Harry Braxton, our hero. The two have a singular relationship. Having thrown herself at him three years earlier at the height of her teenage crush, she was handily rebuffed by Harry who knew better than to get involved with a seventeen year old girl - no matter how appealing she may be. Now, older and wiser, she has convinced herself she is "over him." Instead, her guilty pleasure is secretly reading sappy romance novels (imagine that!) and fantasizing that someday she will meet her knight in shining armor who will rescue her from the Egyptian desert and sweep her off her feet to his manor in jolly old England. Amazingly enough Harry's cousin, Blake Ravenscroft, just happens to be visiting from England and he own a manor! Fancy that!
Dizzy is a darling with Harry. Their rapport together is delicious whether they are arguing or making up. No matter what Dizzy may say to herself, she's still in love with him. Harry loves Dizzy as well, but he carries a secret with him that he fears will prevent her from loving him. He can't read. Nowadays, Harry's affliction is known as dyslexia, but in the 1890's, his affliction is looked upon as if he is retarded, an embarrassment. But, in Egypt he has found his calling, he can read glyphs with no problem, and he can also speak dozens of various dialects and languages - he's a genius actually and has been quite successful in his field. The two of them make a natural pair - she can read and write languages, but can't speak them, and he's a pro at speaking them, yet can't read and write!
There is plenty of adventure in this story, Dizzy is kidnapped more than once, but she's so cute and ingenuous, you don't think of the danger. The storyline is more on the lighthearted side with some serious overtones in regard to the stigma of dyslexia and how Harry had been so misunderstood while growing up in England. Dizzy has her childhood issues as well, not having a real childhood since she was trotted out over and over again all over the world as a linguistic child prodigy. Despite her unorthodox upbringing, she is free of affectations which is refreshing. She's brave and bold, and can hold her own whether she is bartering over prices in the market or smoking hashish in a hookah. She's simply adorable. The triangle that is created between Dizzy and Harry and his cousin Blake is fun to read about. Of course, as the reader, we are privy to everyone's secrets, yet the major players are not. It's fun to see how everything plays out. Who is trying to kill Harry? Will Blake succeed in capturing Dizzy's heart? Will Harry come clean and admit to Dizzy he cannot read? Will Harry tell Dizzy he loves her?
By the time the story unfolds and comes to an end, there is lots of action and I was smitten with Harry and ultimately happy for them both. This is a worthwhile read and I'm glad I gave it a go, my first by this author. It was well written and a pleasure, I looked forward to reading it every night after work and kept thinking about the characters. Harry has become one of my favorite disreputable heroes now. If you're into historical settings that are not set in London but have a more exotic locale with some humor and adventure, give this one a try, you'll probably love it!