Looking for a charming or even a dark regency set romance? Well, don't look here. I have never read a romance so devoid of romance in the nine years that I've been reading the genre.
The story starts out when Diandra Reynell and her younger sister Selena leave India shortly after Diandra's husband mysteriously dies. Selena loathes India and wants to spend a season in London where she hopes to snag a husband. Although Diandra fears her step-son, Justin, the Earl of Skene, will be less than thrilled with their sudden appearance she holds out hope he will do his duty by sponsoring Selena and putting them up for six months.
What Diandra fails to anticipate is the level of hatred Justin feels towards her. He seems to think she has murdered not only his Father (for his money) but also his Mother years earlier (so he would be free to marry her). Having had enough of Justin's insinuations and insults she tells him she will get lodging elsewhere. He decides to do the noble thing and puts them up but only so he can keep a close eye on her and hopefully find some sort of evidence to prove that she is a murderess.
When tables begin levitating and ghostly apparitions begin to appear Justin assumes it is all Diandra's trickery while she thinks it is his way of scaring her into leaving. This is only one of many obstacles that face them. There are murders, and dark secrets, jealous relatives, not to mention their own prickly personalities. Although they bicker by day they can't deny their physical attraction to each other in the dark of night where anything is possible and secrets are kept. They indulge in all kinds of carnal sex but once their needs are satiated they dislike and suspect each other all over again. The story takes a bit of a turn when women begin showing up dead and Diandra is almost the next victim and Justin is forced to reevaluate his misconceptions about her.
This is an uncommonly harsh review for me and I hesitated writing it. Why? Because I realize this is just my opinion and that authors have feelings too. But when I spend $4.99 of my hard earned money on a book marked historical romance and I don't find even a glimmer of romance within its 352 pages I get very perturbed. I realize this is probably not the author's fault but the spine on this book should read "Historical Erotica" because this book is not a romance, IMO.
So what did I have a problem with? Well, first off I like snappy, witty or even sentimental dialogue. You know, the kind of dialogue that makes you like the characters? DMO was filled with bitter, argumentative dialogue. Not only were the hero and heroine snapping at each other but so were most of the secondary characters! There wasn't a charming one in the bunch (well, maybe that poor sucker George but he was a very bit player). It got depressing and repetitive after page 100 and it never brightened up.
I have to give the author credit for pushing the envelope in the sex department but as much as I enjoy explicit sex I fear the characterization suffered in this book in order to include more sex scenes. I never got the impression that these two got to know each other or even truly liked each other. After the first sex act the many that followed bored me because I didn't care about these people. There was nothing sexy about their trysts because I knew they couldn't stand each other. I just can't fathom how anyone can be attracted to someone that makes them want to smash their face in with every obnoxious word they utter. Maybe my view of romance is skewed but romance, at least in my eyes, is about more than just lusting over someone's bod. This book was missing some important ingredients like caring, tenderness, and love. When I finished the last page I pictured these two killing each other in about a month.
Not only did the characters bother me but the writing did as well. The author has a habit of repeating herself, repeating herself, repeating herself. For example the hero is observing the heroine and the author writes, "He watched her, watched her, watched her". This strange sort of repeating thing is done many times over the course of the book - by both characters! I assume it's a quirk of the author or maybe she was striving for a stream of consciousness style of writing but it became annoying and distracting.
Well, if anything, I've learned that I like the idea of graphic sex but it has to be between two characters who like each other and I need a little dose of romance to go along with it or it just doesn't work for me. A little tenderness, a smile, a gentle caress, and a kind word would've made the descriptions of what one does with a man's cream all the more effective in my opinion . .