I have loved Anna Cambell's books so far, but this one made me cringe with horror as the so called heroine was one of the most selfish, calculating, indifferent women Anna has come up with.I can say in all honesty that I despised her and would have felt relieved and vindicated if our hero abandoned her as would have been the case in an even remotely realistic story. Admittedly, we do not read romance for realism, that is why I require the main characters to be honourable, to have principles and be unwavering in their loyalty. Diana is a one dimentional character, selfishly seeking to ensure ownership of an estate through selling herself and perjuring. Is there anything admirable in that? As I will go into some details in an attempt to explain my objections, be warned that parts of the story will be revealed.
Diana brazenly asks Lord Ashcroft to have an affair with her as she claims to be interested in experiencing carnal delights, deprived to her since her husband's death eight years earlier. Lord Ashcroft is reluctant as he senses that the woman is concealing something from him but unable to resist her sexual charms, he capitulates to what proves to be an earthshattering experience for both of them. Diana has heard rumours that his Lordsahip is an incorrigible rake, susceptible to any petticoat with ample charms. She wants to become mistress of the estate she has lived on and cared for all her life on condition she give birth to Lord Ashcroft's child. Knowing him to be such a degenerate scoundrel, Diana presumes she'll have no problem bedding him and realizing her dream. Let's take a minute to consider her actions, even if we assume that Tarquin Vale (our hero's name) is indeed a scoundrel. Where are Diana's principles? Assuming that one person is immoral does in no way excuse our own immoral acts against him. Tarquin takes precautions against pregnancy but this scheming woman by lying through her teeth and persuading him she can't conceive, or is using her own means of contraception, traps him into having free sex. I found this unsavoury and disturbing. To make matters worse, even when Diana realizes that the man she has grown to love is not only honourable and sensitive but caring and deeply loving, she still persists with her despicable charade which was orchestrated by Lord Burnley, Tarquin's adversary and a heinous, heartless, reptilian character. Bear in mind that Diana was not in need, neither was there an exonerating motive for her to act as she did, other than greed, that is.
Diana does indeed suffer from a "guilty" conscience and "remorse" but when she perseveres on her course knowing full well that she will cause Tarquin unbearable pain with her treachery, then all this is an unconvincing, paltry excuse for the reader not to feel utter contempt for her. It failed in my case as that is exactly what I felt. It was irritating indeed, to be constantly reading about her flagellating conscience. She loved him! Sopme distorted, twisted notion of love! Particularly so, when Tarquin confided details of his life that would have had a real woman falling to his feet and asking for forgiveness and not plunging the knife deeper into an already open wound.
I do not want to reveal more, but I like being honest with my reviews and this is no exception. Though I love Anna's writing I hope she will spare us such heroines who deserve nether love nor devotion and who make the hero resort to groveling humiliation. Reality is full of greedy, grasping cheats so I prefer the fairytale to have heroes bigger than life, "worth dying for" who uphold their principles and values and who live in honour. That's the reason why I read romance, for the fairy tale and the improbable. Diana was so unworthy, so undeserving so undistinguished! Why?