Dear Ms. Day:
I know I’ve read worst books this year, but not by much. I’ll tell you straight off, I am giving the book a D because I can’t find one thing redeeming in this book other than the plot of who killed the heroine’s husband was mildly interesting. The rest of it? Wall banger material.
Elizabeth, Lady Hawthorne was engaged to Marcus Ashford, the Earl of Westridge. She came to his house one evening (as most sheltered society misses did in Regency England) and caught him in a state of dishaibille with a wet head. Because all Earls answer their own doors and no butlers ever give their employers warning. Ensconced in the house is a woman, unknown to Elizabeth, also with a wet head. Again, because strange women are often found cavorting around Earl’s homes when he is receiving his fiance. Elizabeth jumps to a conclusion that Marcus is lacking in fidelity and races home and subsequently elopes. Somehow this all transpires quickly enough that Marcus doesn’t have the opportunity to explain or stop Elizabeth.
Elizabeth’s husband dies about a year after the marriage and after three years of mourning, Elizabeth and Marcus meet at a society event. From there, we engage in a tiresome but consistent course of Elizabeth saying she doesn’t want Marcus whilst succumbing to his seduction at every turn and Marcus denying that he is in love with Elizabeth whilst wanting to own her at every turn. This stale, tired plot device reminds me of the scene in Singing the Rain wherein sound lags behind the picture so that Lina Lamont’s head is shaking “no, no, no” while the voice is saying “yes, yes, yes.” Comical in SITR, but a dead bore in this story.
“You think you can build barriers between us with words and clothing?” he asked harshly. “Every time you attempt it, I will take you just like this, become a part of you so that all your efforts will be for naught.”
There was no place to hide, nowhere to run.
“This will be the last time,” she vowed.
“Bloody hell. You and I. Just made love. In that bed.” He gestured with an impatient thrust of his chin. “And the chair. And the floor in a moment, if you don't cease irritating me.”
“We made a mistake,” she said softly, icy fear settling in her stomach.
Violet eyes widened, melting, and she backed away from him. “I don't want you anymore.”
Stepping closer, Marcus didn't stop until he had her pressed against the wall, his thigh between hers, his hand curling around her nape. Burying his face in her neck, he breathed in her fragrance of warm, aroused woman.
She trembled in his arms. “Marcus– ”
I particularly loved this sentence and thought it showed perfectly how incongruous your characterizations were because everytime she is barebreasted in the story she is well on her way to be tupped to death.
“Only Elizabeth could sit bare breasted on a man and be so remote.”
The book seemed to be replete with historical anachronisms which bothered this neophyte historian. I kept asking myself whether these things would really happen: William, Elizabeth’s brother, and Marcus engage in a public spat at a ball wherein they talk (in front of others) about Elizabeth in an unseemly fashion. Elizabeth and a male companion go from ending one set to immediately preparing to dance another set. Later on, you mention that couples could only really dance one dance together. You have Elizabeth abandoning Marcus in the middle of a set (not a waltz) and I wondered what happened to the other people. Elizabeth runs off from London to an estate outside of London without any clothes, her maid, or anyone. I am still not sure how she got there. Maybe transported herself?
The scenes seemed to be missing parts because it skips from one emotion to another without any seque. An perfect example of this appears when Elizabeth and Marcus are in their bedroom, fighting, of course. In one paragraph, Elizabeth thinks that Marcus is a brute. Four paragraphs later, Elizabeth thinks about Marcus’ tenderness. The hell? Where did that come from. I had about a dozen “the hell” moments and wondered if the ebook version I bought was somehow defective.
Nothing in the story made sense. William, Elizabeth’s brother, was filled with righteous indignation that Marcus would be pursueing Elizabeth. Hello, William, but it was your sister who jilted Marcus. Then you explain that Elizabeth’s fear of Marcus had to do with the fact that she thought he would be unfaithful like her father and her brother. Then we find out that William is happily married and that her father had affairs after her mother died. Marcus has a mortal enemy. He believes this enemy threatens Elizabeth’s safety and is responsible for ambusing Marcus’ shipping lines. Yet, when Marcus has the opportunity to place this man in custody, he just bruises his face and then leaves. And later, no one can find this villian. Christ on a crutch. I could cite more examples of the incomprehensible nature of this book but for everyone’s sake, I’ll stop.
The whole book seemed amateurish, like you are just learning how to write, plot, characterize. There was little character growth and virtually no payoff from the constant push pull of the protagonists. It’s a disjoined, inconsistent, incoherent mess. It’s a huge disappointment after all the buzz you received from Bad Boys Ahoy. As I said at the top of the letter, D.