Monday, September 19, 2011
The Malorys - A family of dashing rogues and rakehell adventurers - and ladies of uncommon beauty and incomparable spirit - their amorous exploits are spoken of in envious whispers from Regency London to America′s shores.
Love Only Once - The exquisite niece of Lord Edward and Lady Charlotte Malory, Regina Ashton is abducted by Nicholas Eden - an arrogant seducer hardened by a painful secret from his past. Reggie has vowed to marry the golden-haired rogue who has besmirched her good name - and who arouses her womanly desires to an unendurable level. But her beauty only stirs Nicholas′s passion - giving rise to dangerous misunderstandings. . . and a love that can live only once in a lifetime.
This is the first time I've read anything by this author. I've heard great things about The Malory's and was looking forward to starting this series which begins with Love Only Once. What got off to a good start fizzled as the story progressed.
It was unfortunate that I never cared for or liked the tortured hero, Nicholas Eden. Nicholas has vowed to never marry because he has a deep dark secret. He is illegitimate. He has carried this burden for years, and despite the fact his father is dead, his "mother" (his father's wife) knows the truth and has threatened to make it public. He will not marry and risk exposing a wife to the scandal and ignominy that would ensue once the secret is out. So, what does he do instead? He creates his own scandals by being a rake about town, deflowering virgins (but only with their permission) and having affairs with bored wives of the elite. This suits Nicholas well until he meets Regina Ashton. When he meets Regina he doesn't realize who she is or what family she comes from - The Malory's.
Due to a series of events, Regina is accidentally abducted by Nicholas from a ball. He locks her up in a room in his London townhouse until he realizes his terrible mistake! How could Nicholas not have realized he had the wrong woman? You think he'd recognize his own mistress? It was beyond belief. Despite efforts to hush hush the whole mix-up, his discarded mistress spreads the word to the ton of what happened and Regina's Malory uncles, who are nothing to sneeze at, require Nicholas marry their beloved niece to save her reputation. Nicholas is adamant. He will not marry her! Yes, I know he doesn't want to subject her to the inevitable scandal of his illegitimacy, but I thought this was a terribly slim premise for his refusal. I had no sympathy for him, and actually, I rather disliked him. Would it have killed him to at least explain to the uncles why he wouldn't marry her - that it was to protect her? Instead it looked like he was just a cad. But, with some property he's had his eye on to sweeten the deal (that conveniently abuts his own), Nicholas is convinced, he agrees to marry Regina. But he is a very reluctant bride groom - until he is overcome by Regina's charm and beauty. Anticipating their wedding vows, Regina allows him to seduce her outside in a gazebo, no less! Once is enough in romance novels. Another virgin deflowered - and pregnant.
What does Regina think of all of this? She was smitten by Nicholas the minute she met him, so she was petitioning for the marriage from the start. Her uncles were already eager to marry her off, and Nicholas suited her purposes. It would solve the problem of marrying and she was attracted to him as well! But, things don't go so well. Nicholas decides to be a real jerk, and as soon as they marry, he deposits her off at his estate with his awful "mother" and he leaves the country for the Indies. No wedding night, no tender words, no apologies, no nothing. And worst of all - Regina never gets to tell Nicholas she is carrying their child - from that one night.
I really detested him! And despite his treatment to her, he's supposed to be falling in love with her! Aaargh!
So, for the rest of the book, Regina is on her own, getting bigger and bigger while Nicholas is off somewhere in the West Indies feeling sorry for himself and gnashing his teeth over how stupid he is! Frankly, I had zero tolerance for his behavior and didn't see what Regina saw in him! He has no idea his wife is pregnant or that she has been kidnapped (!) by a pirate who just so happens to be be her uncle! I felt like throwing the book at the wall (but I was trapped on an airplane flying to Scotland, so I had nothing else to do but read on).
Finally, Nicholas decides to return to his wife and admit what a fool he was to leave her. He'll tell her how much he loves her, and plead for her forgiveness. It doesn't exactly happen that way, but in the end all is forgiven and it turns out that Regina knew all about his illegitimacy as soon as he left and it didn't bother her one bit! (His "mother" told her as soon as she was left at his estate with her.) So, she was left alone for her entire pregnancy for no reason at all! Lah-dee-da! But she loves him anyway! *rolls eyes*
I just don't get the rave reviews over this book. Apart from the "she's pregnant but won't tell the father until she's had the baby!" plot line which I couldn't stand, it was tedious in parts and the hero and heroine were annoying together as well as apart. I hate these kind of stories, I sure hope the rest of the series isn't like this one!
You're probably wondering why am I going to read the next in the series. I'm not sure. It's gotten such good comments and reviews, I have to see if the next book is better. If it turns out to be another disappointment? That's it. It's over.