Sunday, December 18, 2011
Scottish heiress Roslynn Chadwick needs the safety of marriage to protect her from an unscrupulous cousin and from the army of fortune-hunting scoundrels who covet her wealth and beauty. And Anthony Malory is everything she has been warned against.
A ruthless, irresistibly handsome English rogue, Malory's sensual blue eyes speak of limitless pleasures. How she wishes she dare to love such a man... to believe the whispered murmurings of his passionate promise... and to follow the enchanting dream...
Once again, I was let down, I still can't say I'm thrilled with these Malory Family books, which had been much touted and recommended to me. What am I missing? Tender Rebel was slightly better than Love Only Once, but not by much. Maybe it's because this is an older book, from the '80's and this was a popular type of scenario then. Fiery, hot tempered Scottish heiress, Roslynn, must marry to thwart her dastardly cousin's scheme to marry her for her money. Fleeing to London before her cousin can get to her, Roslynn seeks out the safety of an old school friend who helps introduce her to society. You see, Roslynn must marry - fast, before her sneaky cousin can kidnap her and force her to marry him.
Once in London, Roslynn seems to be a magnet to the Malory's: the rakish Anthony and his brother James, James' seventeen year old son, Jeremy and their niece Regina (from Love Only Once, who is now married to former rake, Nicholas Eden, Viscount of Monteith.) Roslynn and Anthony have an instant attraction, but Roslynn had been warned off about rakes from her friend and also her grandfather before he died (yet, he also advised her that they can make good husbands too.) Anthony proves to be irresistible and he has no compunction in chasing her down like a gazelle running from a lion. She too easily winds up in his arms, even though he's a known womanizer and confirmed bachelor. I was quite surprised at how easily she allowed herself to become seduced by him, in a solarium no less, where anyone can see. For a well raised Scottish miss, she should know better.
Lo and behold, Anthony really begins to care for Roslynn. They come to an understanding, he knows she must marry quickly so he agrees to help her find a suitable husband. A familiar storyline, of course no one in his eyes is suitable and and after rescuing her from a close call due to her cousin, he proposes marriage himself - of convenience - in order to protect her. After many refusals, Roslynn finally agrees to marry, seeing that it is the most sensible thing to do at the moment. (I admit, I loved the lie he told her about one of her would be suitors, insinuating brother and sister have been having a fling for years! Shameful!) But she puts the stupidest condition on the marriage. She insists that he keeps a mistress for she thinks he can't possibly be faithful to her, due to his notoriety as a ladies' man. She doesn't want to fall in love with him, so she wants to make sure she's going into the marriage with her eyes open - it was so dumb! He agrees even though he has no intention of keeping to her ridiculous bargain, for he's dying to get her into bed and make her his (even though he's already done had her the night before they marry).
Her crazy kind of logic was ridiculous, and once they married and she thinks he's been cavorting with some tavern wench the storyline grew tedious in the extreme. She freezes him out because she thinks he'd doing exactly what she required of him! No matter how much he denied it, she refused to believe him. All they did was argue and play mind games with one another. She just wouldn't believe him or trust him, no matter what he said or what his actions confirmed. He was always "teaching her a lesson" thinking up ways to make her want him - and basically have a normal marriage where the husband and wife like each other - how novel! If I were Anthony I wouldn't have put up with her and I would have done all in my power to prove to her my faithfulness rather than have it drag out forever!
Roslynn was so stubborn and blind to the fact Anthony really was in love with her, I barely liked her and her marital conditions. Apart from her pretty face, what did he see in her anyway? She was plucky, I'll give her that, I liked the way she jumped out of a window into a hay cart to escape from her cousin. That took guts. Anthony was already rich, so he didn't need her money - I think it was because - dare I say it - it was love at first sight. Plus, she was a challenge and then she began to grow on him and the final straw was when he rescued her. That was the end of his bachelor days. For some reason, she'd gotten under his skin and he wanted to protect her from her cousin once and for all, and marriage was the only way (as well as punching the cousin out, Anthony also happens to be an expert pugilist.)
All in all, this book was so-so. Too many mind controlling games in a marriage spells disaster and makes it hard to trust one another which was the basic gist of their problem and theme of this book. It took forever to get Roslynn to come around, although Anthony believed in her from the beginning and he was willing to bide his time until she came to her senses about him and admitted she loved him. I guess Roslynn's grandfather was right, reformed rakes do make good husbands - I'm sure we'll see in future Malory books if we get glimpses of this couple in the coming years.