It is the mark of good writing, when a novel can make the reader feel for the characters. I felt real anger towards both the characters and the author who in my opinion should write erotica without any pretence of being a romance novelist. There are so many american writers who seem to be obsessed with writing about England's past and while it makes a change to read a historical novel that isn't about Lord Muck and Lady Fitzthingy during the regency era; the main characters is this novel are primarily concerned with getting laid, not falling in love.
Elaine Metcliffe is an overweight thiry-nine year old; hardly middle aged in my opinion, but that is how she is portrayed by the author, and in a cold loveless marriage where neither she nor her husband share any affection or happiness. So of course she is surprised to wake up one morning and find herself in the body of lovely nineteen year old Morrigan in 19th century England. Charles Mortimer who has been married to Morrigan for a year and all his attempts to bed his new wife, have met with blatant refusal. She barely speaks to him, and refuses to accept anything from him, not his wedding ring, not the lovely clothing he has provided her with and especially not the pleasures of the marriage bed that he is so eager to show to her. Frustrated, Charles rapes his wife, and this is how the reader first meets him, the morning after. He is filled not with anger or repugnance at his own actions but he is still angry with his wife for her coldness towards him. He like so many men of his time, does not see his action as rape, but as his right. The author doesn't bother to dwell on this seemingly unimportant aspect of his character. He barely knows his wife. He fell for her watching her dancing in the woods while she was unaware that she was being observed. At the time, she seemed fey and lovely to him now he hates her for continual rejection and he's racked with sexual frustration. So we hear his inner rants. How dare, his wife reject his advances when he took the trouble to study the bloody karma sutra in India? He's taken Morrigan from poverty to a grand house with servants and everything she could wish for so why doesn't she love him?
When Elaine realises what has happened to her and that she is really in another time and place she is terrified of speaking in her southern accent, so pretends to have a throat infection so that no one will suspect anything is wrong. Now Charles finds that Morrigan is shaking with passion at his touch, wearing her wedding ring, and no longer rejecting him. So of course he falls 'in love'.
I could only stomach this book until three quarters of the way through it when suddenly the author decides to add another plot twist, and turn the happless Morrigan into the villan of the piece. By this time, the reader has discovered enough of Morrigan's past to know that she is the victim, having endured a hellish childhood and upbringing. I was angry with the author for making a villan of a character who had a childhood, and relatives that made Jane Eyre's seen cosy and loving.
It made no sense and if an author wants to write a novel about two lonely people who want to have sex, they shouldn't dress it up with the pretense of being a romance. Charles was hardly romantic material, he fell in love with his wife's physical beauty and had no idea what was going on in her head. He was completely selfish and when the opportunity came for protecting his wife from her awful, abusive nurse, and even worse family came, he failed to see their vindictive natures and their true potential for harm, showing an amazing lact of perception. In a romance the reader is supposed to fall in love with the 'hero' too at least a little, and this book failed utterly to make this reader feel for all but one character.