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REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: The Price of Desire by Jo Goodman

We have the good fortune to give away 4 ARCs (one copy gently read) and 5 finished copies. The four ARCs will be mailed on Saturday with the five finished copies to be sent out when I receive them (probably at the end of next week). Goodman is one of my favorite authors and I am thrilled to do a giveaway of her books. Not because I like Goodman (I don’t know her from Adam) but because I think readers who love a) historical romances and b) wonderful love stories with damaged characters are missing out if they haven’t read her.

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Dear Ms. Goodman:

book review There are some books that you gulp down and there are some that you savor. Your works are those that I like to savor, like an expensive bit of chocolate that I open carefully, making sure that I do not mar even the wrapper before tasting the delicacy the wrapper holds. These books are languorous and half the pleasure is seeing the story unfold like an early morning flower. This book does not have alot of snappy exchanges but what it does have is characterizations that are so vibrant that I felt I was inside the book, following the characters around, watching them become vulnerable to love.

Griffin Wright-Jones, Viscount of Breckenridge, lives a life on the fringe of society owning a gambling hell. It is rumored that he murdered his wife. She has been missing for over five years. Many a young men pass through Griffin’s halls, gambling away their allowances. Usually he keeps a tight rein on them, but one night Alastair Cole loses so much that he must seek an advance from his father, Sir Hadrien Cole. Griffin takes Cole’s signet ring, Cole’s father’s ring, as security. But Cole sneaks in, and takes back the ring and leaves a note telling Griffin that a certain Olivia at Jericho Mews is a rarer gem than Cole’s heirloom. Griffin takes her but wonders aloud to Olivia, gently skewering the betting trope and your own plot at once:

“I should like to hear your opinion on this matter, Miss Cole. It is Miss Cole, is it not?” When she nodded , he continued. “I’d like you to tell me in which of these three respects the gentleman is the most complete bounder. He surrenders his wife to a man he owes payment. He gives over his mistress to discharge a debt. Or he sacrifices his sister to spare himself a bad end. I confess, I cannot work it out myself, but it occurs that you might have a congent position.”

It’s a puzzler, isn’t it? I have been thinking that if I could arrive at some clever answer, it might make an acceptable teaser in society. Riddles are popular with a certain crowd and their parlor games. It would be a thing oft repeated. The wife. The mistress. The sister. “

Oliva Cole is Alastair’s sister and disowned daughter of Sir Hadrien. Olivia owes a great debt to Alastair and goes willingly to Griffin to be the security of the note. But the way in which Alastair’s missive is written to Griffin, Olivia wonders if she isn’t supposed to redeem the note with her body and that is not something she would do willingly.

The books, like most Goodman books, has an understated quality to them so that the actions of the characters speak loudly. Olivia, for example, is a quiet woman whose internal fortitude has been tested time and again throughout her life, particularly by her father. She survives but only by holding herself inviolate. Her defense to the world is self control and self deprecation and to some extent, escape. By belittling herself, perhaps she can take herself out the range of interest and thus harm. But underneath her quiet exterior is a spine of steel.

“Can you tell me what your brother meant by the turn of phrase: she will reward you in ways you cannot imagine.

Olivia saw that Breckenridge did not consult her brother’s marker. Evidentily he had memorized the contents as well. She sought out a place of tranquility in her mind–this time a wheat field made golden by sunshine–and lay herself down at its very center. With panic momentarily quelled,she aswered with prenatural calm. “You must not make too much of it. It is the sort of hyperbole that Alastair is wont to make when the truth does not serve.”

“And the truth in this case would be . . . ?”

“That I am of no particular value to anyone, my lord. I have no funds, nor any hope of securing them. I have no talents. My interests are pedestrian and unlikely to change. I cannot say that I have any particular accomplishments. I do not play the pianoforte. Neither do I sing, paint, embroider, or ride. It would take considerable time to name all of the things I cannot do, do not want to do, and will not do, so I hope you will spare us both that exercise.”

Griffin is by turns arrogant and cold but with Olivia incredibly sensitive. He easily breaks matters off with his mistress but summons a doctor to attend inspect Olivia because she looks frail to him. He understands human nature and sees a kindred spirit in Olivia. He wants her, not simply because she is beautiful on the outside, but because he recognizes that something deep in her calls out to something deep in him.

“We are of a kind, you and I,” Griffin said quietly. “I think you know it’s true.”
Then he bent his head and laid his mouth over hers. There was very little pressure in the kiss, just a touch, a tender brush. Sweetness and solace.

The two of them had to grow up too fast and, as a result or due to what made them age so quickly in spirit, the two are alone. Olivia, the abandoned daughter. Griffin, the motherless boy, too soon a viscount. Olivia is alone because she has been disowned and she has forsworn her father. Griffin is alone because as the head of the household, he had to take action to save his four sisters who barely talk to him currently. Two islands in London floating about seeking anchors. Griffin recognizes that Olivia is his treasure and he seeks to keep her, disarming her with honesty. He admits that he has wanted to kiss her from the first. He tells her that his great fear is her and that he is striving to overcome it. By making himself vulnerable, he shifts power to Olivia, inviting her to trust in him.

Olivia’s brother is well nuanced. A villain, yes, but because of cowardice and not malice. He recognizes his own flaws but is unwilling to overcome them. In the end, the story has some contrivances as a danger to both Griffin and Olivia’s lives come to a head. The suspense plot is a bit extraneous and the ultimate villain isn’t as well crafted as Olivia, Griffin and Alastair.

Because Olivia and Griffin had sacrificed and been hurt and survived, their coming together, their love, and ultimately their happiness is rewarding for the reader. The best thing about this book is the leisurely way in which we watch Olivia come into her own, grappling with her demons along the way. Because it is not rushed, the reader believes in the end not only in Olivia’s personal victories but that the ever after part is authentic. A-

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format on September 1, 2008.

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Pretty much all giveaways at Dear Author are run the same. Drop a comment, any comment, to this review and we’ll select 9 winners. The contest will run from now until Friday at midnight, CST. I am excited to giveaway

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

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