I didn't feel anything for the characters at all. They bored me to tears. They meet... they're attracted to each other... they wow each other with their "radical" outlooks... they have sex... then stroll in the park, talking blandly about a bunch of boring stuff (business, politic)... then they have sex again... and apparently the sex is so mind-blowing that the hero falls in love with her. And all the while, she's trying to decide whether or not he's a traitor. Okaaay.. where's the romance?
I've always loves the independent heroine type; women who take their lives into their own hands and create a world for themselves that doesn't revolve around their husbands. I adore those kind of people... but independent disposition aside, there should be something else worth liking about their personality; A fun, refreshing sense of humour... an optimistic, unique outlook on life... a special skill or ability...a sweet, generous nature... a daring and quick wit...or even a fiesty, willful temperment. Anything at all that makes her stand out among her peers... not just the fact that she's independent. Because anyone can be independent, but still bored you to tears with their lack of personality.
Unfortunately, Xanthia falls into this latter department. I didn't find anything worth liking about her personality. Her independence in based on the fact she has a career and she freely takes lovers just like a man. I'd rather have Xanthia be a woman whose independence is defined by the way she defies social expectation. I'd rather have her uniqueness based on the fact that she doesn't give a damn what people think. Unfortunately, she does. Her behavior confuses me. She turns Nash down at first becuase she doesn't want to cause scandal, yet contrary to what society would approve of, she runs a shipping business and works in one of the most sketchy part of the city... Doesn't make any sense. If she's already defying social expectation by having a career, then why care what people think about her taking a lover?
Eventually Xanthia and Nash do become lovers. How and Why? Because Xanthia is spying to see if Nash is guilty of treason... huh...
Before knowing more about what kind of man he is and whether or not he's guilty, she sleeps with him. THEN, she decides "Oh, he must be innocent!" He doesn't SEEM like a traitor...hmmm.. Talk about bias. Instead of being the wise, down-to-earth heroine I hoped her to be (by waiting to learn more about him BEFORE having a relationship with him) she sleeps with him first, develops feelings for him (which from what I've seen are mostly just basic lust and sexual desires) THEN forms a verdict on his innocence. For an independent, free-thinking woman she sure acts like an illogical idiot.
Nash, on the other hand, is also boring as hell. Just a regular ol' rake...only, without any of the irresistible rakish charms. He's neither dashing nor fun nor especially sexy .. at least not to me. He's not physically or emotionally flawed in any way, so there's no compassion to be felt for our hero. He doesn't have a dark past or a shady secret... so he lacks the aura of mystery and danger. He's neither witty or display a unique charm. He doesn't have a skill or an admirable ability. His physical description doesn't leave one dreamy or sighing with wistfulness. Supposedly, he has an imposing and attractive presence, but I sure didn't see it. Nash.... takes mistresses and runs from the idea of marriage...typical, but... uh uh...not my kind of hero.
The couple together is uninteresting. The spy business takes any lightness out of the story and also any of the romance. Who'd wanna read page after page about government policies, conflicts between political parties, the how one country is using spies to infiltrate another. When I pick up a romance novel and I expect to have some fun... go on adventures...see some lovin'... and giggle stupidly like a silly girl. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. When Nash and Xanthia meet, they talk politely, inertly to each other. Their conversations are largely about politics and business... *yawn*... then out of nowhere, one person would make an innuendo to the other... and ooo the passion is simmering. Pff...yeah right. Whatever tension there is between them feels artificial and fake...limited to their shallow admiration for each other's bodies and their desire to couple... She doesn't seem so special that he can't stop thinking about her. And he doesn't seem worthy enough for her to risk that independence she struggles to hard to protect. I can't see what she loves about him and I can't see what he loves about her.So in the end, it's just the two of them adoring each other, with me -the reader- standing to the side, scratching my head and wondering to myself ...why?
All in all, I love Carlyle. I've read her for years, but I didn't like this book. It doesn't touch me in any way. And pardon me for being a little conservative, but I find the idea of her giving him a BJ the first time they have sex a little disgusting... She barely knows the guy! Eww... Not romantic, not sweet... just eww. Ok... That's all I have to say.
Oh and please keep in mind that these are MY opinions. They may not be true for everyone. So, take my word for what it is, but if you want to read the book and form your own opinion, please do... I look forward to hearing what everyone else think..