Lady Emmaline Fitzhugh, a hopeless romantic, is tired of sitting with the wallflowers, waiting for her betrothed to come to his senses and marry her. When Emmaline reads one too many reports of his scandalous liaisons in the gossip rags, she takes matters into her own hands. War-torn veteran Lord Drake devotes himself to forgetting his days on the Peninsula through an endless round of meaningless associations. He no longer wants to feel anything, but Lady Emmaline is making it hard to maintain a state of numbness. With her zest for life, she awakens his passion and desire for love. The one woman Drake has spent the better part of his life avoiding is now the only woman he needs, but he is no longer a man worthy of his Emmaline. It is up to her to show him the healing power of love.
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Last year, I bought a couple of Christi Caldwell books on sale based on the ratings. I'm decidedly underwhelmed by this one, but I'm going to read the other to be fair, before I give up on her.
MAIN ISSUE: The writing, which is competent and better than amateur, but only in the sense that there is a consistent plot, characters set in the right historical time, and decent dialogue. All good. Unfortunately, the emotions behind the situations feel flat and contrived. I could see what Caldwell wanted me to feel -- I just couldn't feel it. Nothing about the characters showed me their deeper emotions and motivations -- and just telling me how they feel isn't good enough.
(A writer like Lisa Kleypas, who did the wounded hero beautifully in Love in the Afternoon, just outshines her, and left me wishing I was listening that book instead.)
SEX SCENES: The actions described in these are very basic and full of strategic placing of hands and lips, instead of focusing on the more important emotions and sensuality of the moment. In fact, they read like an instruction manual, or a cut and paste exercise from a writing workshop on sex scenes. He touches two main places on her body, and she returns the favor, in every scene. There's some *how does that feel* dialogue and repeated questions of *did I hurt you?* that brought the action to a bizarre halt. She's panting, she's moaning, she's having an orgasm -- and he stops to ask her THAT?
There are also lots of bodily fluids mentioned, and we always know who's leaking what, as if this information adds anything. The book totally lost me at *her juices coated his shaft,* which is just . . . ewww. This wouldn't work in anything other than a really gritty erotica novel for men, and even then, it's just nasty.
NARRATOR: Tim Campbell is new to me, and I found his beautiful plumy English upper crust accent promising. The problem is, he read the whole book as if he didn't know it was a romance . Every situation -- particularly the sex scenes -- were read as if he were a butler who had to read a dirty book out loud to his mistress -- against his will. I thought I could hear a faint sneer of disgust to his tone that made me feel that I was being judged for listening to it! (This could have been my imagination.)
If you think this guy is good, all you have to do is listen to Nicholas Boulton or Tristan Hunt to see the difference, so yeah, 2-1/2 stars. (Note to Narrator: Stop phoning it in. We can hear you.)
RECOMMENDATION: Not Recommended (unless you are a budding HR writer and want an example of how your book could go wrong):
And -- If you love A List HR authors, this one will just frustrate and gross you out.