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3.5 out of 5 stars12
3.5 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 16 January 2008
This is the darkest of the 'Web' stories and tells the story of Madeline, sister of Edmund and Dominic and James Purnell, brother of Alexandra (Edmund's wife from Gilded Web). I won't precis the plot because other reviewers have done that but IMO this is the most complex relationship of the three books and as usual its very well done with lots of emotional intensity. Yes, he's not very nice to her, but he comes from a horrific background, a father who was a fanatically religious disciplinarian who ruled his children with a rod of iron in a very bleak home. There is another skeleton in his closet which needs to be exposed before he can truly forgive himself. Madeline by contrast has had a very loving, open and happy childhood and the contrast between the two of them and their trials and tribulations before they eventually come to a happy outcome is perfectly understandable and very well described. Definitely worth reading as usual.
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on 13 January 2008
Mary Balogh is, for me, the current best writer of Regencies (although Georgette Heyer was, of course, the utter master). Balogh's writing career has spanned several decades and this book, along with the previous two in the series ('The Gilded Web' and 'Web of Love') were originally published in the early 1990s and have now been reissued. Despite their theoretical age they don't feel particularly 'old fashioned' but instead are great stories in their own right, displaying some themes that Balogh developed further in subsequent novels (particularly in 'The Gilded Web').

This book follows Lady Madeleine Raine, sister to Dominic (hero of the last book) and Edmund (hero of the first book) and James Purnell, brother to Alex (heroine of the first book). Madeline and James had various dealings in the first book and Madeline's dissatisfaction with life and inability to commit to marriage were shown in the second book (James was away in Canada working). In this story James is about to return for a short visit and the expectation of his arrival is considerable. Madeline hopes that when he arrives she will be able to put aside her strange yearning for him that has spoiled the last four years, Alex just hopes to see her brother again.

When James arrives he and Madeline instantly feel the attraction they always had between them and yet their behaviour to each other is the same as always. James seems surly and unfriendly, Madeline silly and air-headed. The first half of the book shows them both trying to find an interest in other people as prospective marriage partners but discovering that they can't somehow leave each other alone. In the second half of the book Madeline and James find themselves together and yet not communicating, wounding each other with silences and chatter and behaviour and thoughts.

The strength of this book is in the characterisation, but it's also its weakness. James and Madeline seem to hurt each other and despite their being reasons behind the misunderstandings it seemed all rather too overdramatic. Surely one of the two of them might have said the magic sentence that made everything alright, but no, because the story required them to be separate. We learn a lot about James and why he has become surly and why he fears he is unable to love and yet there were also a couple of loose ends at the close of the book, for example whether he can forgive himself that his father died unreconciled to his son. This isn't an easy read much of the time because of the heartbreak that hero and heroine cause each other. Madeline isn't always that easy to like, either, because she can appear shallow. Still as a book this is far ahead of most of the other Regencies being published today and historical setting and language are all accurate and seamless.

Fans of Mary Balogh will like this book, although perhaps not as much as her more recent offerings, but it would probably help to have read the previous two in the 'web' trilogy first to help follow the action and understand the characters.
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on 11 February 2012
Lady Madeline Raine and James Purnell had been both attracted to each other and repelled by each other in The Gilded Web and Web of Love. Finally James left for Canada, where he worked in the fur trade. Madeline, left alone, convinced herself that she was over him, that she liked her life just as it was. But now James is back and Madeline has to face the fact that she has been deceiving herself.

Wow! I have given this book five stars even though I would not put myself through the pain of reading it again. And it was agony. I picked this book up without having read the first two in the series.

There seemed to be at least 3 parts to this book. In the first we meet a whole host of characters. Most having appeared in the two previous novels and are exposed to the happy marriages of the heroines brothers (too perfect) and a whole bunch of secondary romances. The hero, James is Madeline's brother in law. The relationship between the H/H was a lesson in how to hide your feelings. We were told that they deeply loved each other but they didn't seem to know how to communicate. They were hardly together at all in the first part of the book. Avoided even looking at each other except with cold glances and hardly acknowledging each other's presence. So it seemed kind of cruel to flaunt the perfect relationships of Madeline's brothers, Edmund and Dom in our and her face.
Suddenly I turn the page and Madeline and James are married. I seriously thought my ebook download was faulty and I was missing some pages. How, when? Did they speak. When did that conversation happen?
So the second part of the book is all about the beginning of their married life. Away from the others. But things go from bad to worse. We knew that James was a troubled soul and something was eating him up inside from the beginning. He had a lot of hopes and good intentions but they remained inside of him as if he was punishing himself for past wrongs and sabotaging his relationship with his wife. The skeletons in his cupboard are revealed to us and we understand why he has become this dark unhappy creature but he still doesn't change.
Madeline who seemed so poised and in control becomes a different person. Sharp tongued and ready to push James's buttons. I didn't blame her. Both remained tight lipped about their true feelings. We were told in the beginning that several years ago Madeline had confessed her love for James. He had dismissed it as mere lust. I sincerely wanted to give them both a kick on both their backsides.
In what I considered part 3 of this book, we find out whether Madeline and James were able to salvage anything from the wreck of their marriage. Again all the other couples and secondary romances are brought to the forefront and the H/H slip to the background. I find that I would have wished this book to be focused on the main romance. There were too many couples. Although I guess for those who had read the previous 2 books, this 3rd book in the series allowed readers to get a very generous glimpse of the happily ever afters of Dom and Ellen, Alex and Edmund.

So although this will definitely not be going into my "to read again" list, I take my hat off to Mary Balogh. It is very different from her usual style and I wouldn't have known this was one of her books. No matter what I think about the hero's behavior, I kept wanting to read more . Because I wanted to know " what is wrong with this man? What happened to him? Why is he the way he is? I was completely immersed in the story. I read it in one sitting. This book was about realish people, their flaws, their inner demons and how we don't always make right decisions because we are paralysed by fear or rejection and how not having the courage to reveal our feelings can result in happiness passing us by. You cant love somebody if you don't love yourself.
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on 27 January 2010
I was old by other reviewers on Amazon(US) to give it a miss, alas, the heart always wants what it can't or shouldn't have.

Since reading Simply Love by Mary Balogh, which I thought fantastic. I've been reading her other books and man have I been sorely dissapointed. Devil's Love comes top of the wallbangers list. The characters dont seem to have any love lost between them. We're told he hates her to begin with and doesnt't particularly care for her personality(quite flirty, flitely and very indecisive). In the second half of the book they constantly misunderstand each other, whatever happened to talking things out. Quite sensual in places but still lacking of romance and chemistry between the characters. The ending which I think they should both have groveled considerately was wasted on the characers accusing each other before a satisfactory makeup. Also too many characters(friends, potential suitors and family) and secondary characters, whose stories I didnt care much for. I'm on haitus from Balogh now.

I'll advise you to get from library or charity shop. Not worth the time and money.
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VINE VOICEon 4 October 2009
Okay, let's start by saying that I really, really hate it when authors have their females say, as Maddy does, "If you take me tonight, it will be rape." when said female's resolve then crumbles the minute the hero touches her and she ends up begging to be taken. Very tacky, and I'm surprised at Ms Balogh for including such a scene.
My or my, what a miserable book this is. The hero definitely (in my book) comes out of it the worst. He's cruel, cold, superior and insensitive, and while their initial coupling was with her (silent) consent, it was a cold, nasty affair that was essentially rape. And the aftermath??!! Not good.
Maddy is a complex character who certainly isn't perfect, but in no way does she deserve the treatment she gets for most of the book.
A shame, I kept this for when I had time to indulge it properly, and was consequently very disappointed. Not a keeper, and one for the charity shop.
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on 18 May 2009
It seems as if this book has gotten mixed reviews but I loved it!
It is by far the best book of the "Web" series for me.

During the last two books we have been following Madeline and James as they carried on with their lives after first meeting in the first book.
Although some people think that it was annoying how James couldn't "get over" his childhood and past I thought it was important to the story, otherwise there would have been no plot line! It allowed me to understand James a lot more and have patience with him as he tried to express his love for Madeline. I think, because of his difficulty with expressing his feelings, it showed how genuine and meaningful his love was when he finally tells Madeline.

I loved this book! I really enjoyed reading it and finished it within a day!
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on 29 December 2007
Until the last chapter and half or so, this was a dismal story about James, who couldn't get over his upbringing and forgive himself for an indiscretion in his youth, and Madeline, who had been treated badly by James in the past and continued to be treated badly by him. The publisher's description provides an overview of the plot, but that makes the hero sound far better than his actions indicate. What it doesn't say that is that the only love or romance throughout most of the book involves views into the lives of secondary characters. The style of writing was interesting, in that occasionally a scene would be written from the viewpoint of James, then from the viewpoint of Madeline. But no matter how you look at the scene, it nearly always had the same result: Madeline would try to be warm and caring, and James would say something cutting or nasty. The fact that he immediately mentally castigated himself for it, didn't make him any more likable. Throughout the book he tells himself that he is creating the miserable life he swore he would not have, after living with a father who was cruel and oppressive. There are dark hints of beatings and mistreatment related to the father's extreme religious nature. James decides he is unable to stop himself. Never does he even once TRY to stop himself, he just lashes out, broods, or says unpleasant or very hurtful things!! Unless you have to read it, I'd skip it and recommend, if you missed reading Tino Georgiou's bestseller--The Fates, go and read it.
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on 10 September 2009
With this book i hit high's and lows. I was simply taken through every emotion with the characters. Suspenseful and sad in so many places. True love triumphing over all. i enjoyed reading this book. it wasn't easy but it was good.
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on 27 February 2014
I can normally read Mary Balogh's books quickly, but I found this really stodgy. The "hero" is quite disfunctional and not very likeable and the heroine needed to be more assertive . I felt that if they had had a blazing row in the first few pages it would have quickly sorted out . The whole book felt very protracted and quite tedious.
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on 16 August 2014
I normally love Mary Balogh as a romance writer with good plots and believable characters but I found this one a bit implausible . The relationship between the two characters was so uncomfortable that I found it uncomfortable to read despite the advance expectation of a happy ending.I
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