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on 15 October 2002
Adrian Spence was verbally abused by his father as a child, as was his mother. He is conscious of the preference of his father for his younger brother Benedict and knows that his father is simply waiting for an opportunity to disinherit him - not that wealthy Adrian will be left a pauper, but he is very fond of the entailed family estate. Sure enough, one of Adrian's best friends, who has been on a downward spiral for some time, manages to manipulate Adrian into defending his own life by taking that of Phillip's. Although clearly self defence, Adrian's father seizes the opportunity to replace Adrian with his brother in the succession. Adrian is already weighed down with grief and guilt - now he can add rage to the mix.
In retaliation, Adrian marries the woman his brother is about to offer for - Lilliana Dashell. Lilliana has long held Adrian as her ideal, and it doesn't take much for her to be persuaded to marry him. After the wedding the mask is off, and Lilliana realises that the ideals Adrian was spouting when he proposed were not how he really feels - indeed she begins to wonder if her new husband has any feelings at all. Adrian recognises the mistake he made in marrying a 'country bumpkin' to get back at his brother. Benedict shows up with his own agenda to influence the two. And then Adrian lets Lilliana know the real reason for the marriage - revenge, and that only.
All this and we're probably only a quarter into the book. Adrian is a very complex, damaged character. Contrast this with Lilliana, who is open, kind and compassionate, and is it any wonder Adrian lashes out at her? It is only after Adrian is blinded in an accident, he comes to truly 'see' the value of his new wife. He has often regretted how badly he has treated her, but can't seem to stop himself.
The book shows well the effects of grief, anger and guilt. The treatment of Adrian is very well done - his character is undergoes an essential change and growth by the end of the book, so that he is finally able to feel and express himself. Lilliana also grows from a rather naive country lass into a more assured woman, able to see (at last!) the potential motivations of others and to dip below the surface to discover the truth.
Adrian, however, is genuinely damaged through most of the book. He says some truly appalling things to the woman he persuaded to marry him (no one forced him), and it's a testimony to Quinn's excellent writing that I felt the blow of his words myself. Physically, too, he intimidates his wife in one bedroom scene in particular. It is in these two aspects of Adrian that Quinn treads a fine line between highlighting how Adrian is guilt ridden, hurt and full of suppressed feeling with no healthy way of expressing it, and having him lash out at his wife and not losing the reader's sympathy. Personally I felt that sometimes the line was crossed - even when Adrian knows he has tender feelings for his wife, he seems unable to stop verbally hurting her. It's not like he doesn't know what he's done, either.
Both of these characters grow over the course of the book, most especially Adrian, and it is this that made the book worth reading for me as the action of the plot was pretty transparent. There is however much about the relationship I found disturbing. But I felt that especially Adrian was a well written character, a believable individual who truly lived between these pages. The book is also an interesting look into conventional Regency life - the behind the scenes neglect and abuse that unfortunately probably was a part of life for many of the time. There is much to think about in this book, it's not your standard Regency romance.
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on 25 February 2004
A strange love triangle in which the "hero" of course does not recognise the fact that he is in love. A marriage based on revenge between brothers may seem a strange basis for a book but Julie London makes it work very well, add to the mix our heroine, who is a bit slow to realise everything is not all is seems between the brothers. Perhaps not one of Julie London's best, but well worth the read.
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on 22 June 2011
The story was fun and enjoyable to read, but the publishers have definitely let Julia London down. There are a lot of typos throughout the book (increasing as you progress). It is obvious that when the book was transferred into an e-book format, the editors just weren't doing their job. For example, "y" is very often scanned as "j", full stops were frequently missing and the quotation marks (") are often made into a slash+apostrophe (/'). Unforgivable.
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on 29 January 2001
What can i say i expected so much from the book and found it to be well a little disappointing. My main reason i did not find the heroine to my liking she was weak and couldn't see what was happening. However it had a good sub-plot, which was the cause of his unfeeling nature,and that was what kept me reading.
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on 12 April 2002
this is the frist book i read by julia london and i found it absolutely wonderful. this book was very real in terms of the emotions. it really showed how confusing falling in love is and all the doubts and fears that came along with that emotion. this is a keeper for me.
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