Provocative in Pearls Mass Market Paperback – Feb 23 2010
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About the Author
Madeline Hunter has published twenty-one critically acclaimed historical romances. Her books regularly appear on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. More than five million copies of her books are in print, and her books have been translated into twelve languages. She has won two RITA awards and is a seven-time RITA finalist. Madeline holds a PhD in art history, which she teaches at the university level. She loves to hear from readers and can be contacted through her website: www.MadelineHunter.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Madeline Hunter's characters pulled me in so that I cared immediately about the outcome of this story. She fleshes them out with common human emotions, but flavors them with authentic-reading motivations. This is NOT the saucy modern American psyche dressed in 19th century British gowns. Verity knew a childhood of love, but when her father died, she was under the thumb of a petty and abusive set of relatives. Their treatment was par for the course in that era. Her father protected her wealth, however, and whether she lived or died, the metalworks factory and its secrets are hers. Only blood relatives can inherit, leaving out cousin Bertram.
Grayson (Hawkeswell) keeps his short temper on a leash. Their falling-in-love unfolds slowly, as do the mysteries. Verity's lost childhood friend, Hawkeswell's violent youth, payback to the smarmy relatives, and various relationships kept me reading until way past my bedtime. There's humor here, too, a great relief from some of the tension of the plot.
What I love about Hunter's novels: her characters are never predictable, except that you know you'll love the book. Their motivations and reactions are colored by their time period, not modern notions of romance and HEA. There's always a lot of steam and occasionally smoke and mirrors. At the end? I can't wait for the next book in this series. Counting the days!
If I have a criticism of this book it is that in the first half of the book, Verity and Grayson become intimate before any of the issues and conflicts between them had been aired sufficiently. I would not have expected Verity, who held some mistaken ideas about Grayson's involvement in some dealings which hurt people dear to her, to feel such a strong attraction to him until these issues had been dealt with.
Verity Thompson is an heiress who is forced by her devious social-climbing cousin to marry the earl of Hawkeswell. Verity's father made his money in iron, so bascially she's a tradesman's daughter. Hawkeswell's estates are falling apart and he needs money badly. Believing that Hawkeswell was in on her cousin's evil plot and seeing no other way out, Verity "fakes" her death shortly after the wedding ceremony. Her plan is to hide out until she reaches her majority and then seek an annulment. Meanwhile, Hawkeswell who has the responsibilities his title implies, has been in limbo, unable to use the much needed money he should have received as a settlement in the marriage. Plus, the tabloids have been having a field day with Verity's disappearance, making Hawkeswell a victim of public gossip and scrutiny. The book opens when he discovers Verity is very much alive. Angry, and feeling like he's been made a fool of, he demands that Verity take her place as his wife. He convinces her to accept 3 kisses a day thinking that he can bind her to him with passion.
In the beginning, of course, Verity tries to plan ways to end her marriage. She wants back the life she believes she was meant to live, which certainly does not include living as a noble. One of the things I really love about Hunter's historicals is how she meshes the politics of the day into her stories. On the surface, it might seem that the conflict between Verity and Hawkeswell centers around the deceit involved in the marriage, but there is a real class struggle going on between them as well which makes the plot so much more interesting. The one only tiny weakness in the story is that I think Verity gives in a little too quickly to Hawkeswell's ardor (not that I blame her really). Once the marriage is consummated, her plans for an annulment are basically moot, but the conflict between them continues to rise and escalates until the extremely satisfying resolution at the end of the book.
One of the things I loved most about this book were the scenes between Hawkeswell and his friends Sebastian Summerhays (the hero from Ravishing in Red)and the magnificently debauched Duke of Castleford (I can not wait for his story!!!) The dialogue is absolutely wonderful. It's witty, urbane and makes their scenes come alive in the most wonderful way. It's almost like 19th century Sex in the City for Men. Absolutely fascinating!
I would highly recommend this book and am anxiously awaiting the 3rd book in the series.
Dopey heroine behavior: Deciding to be haughty when she was so obviously in the wrong. Then deciding she liked sex so she'd stay married, but not be intimate. Then ask for all kinds of favors without explaining context. And using sex to get what she wants. Ick.
Dopey writing: No real problem to solve. There was a very muted plot where people were disappearing from a district where the heroine used to live, but we don't know these people or care about them, or suspect anyone we know could be involved in the violence...this plot needed either commitment or elimination. When it finally got resolved, it happened 'yesterday' and we heard little snippets about it but I felt cheated that we didn't get to participate in the final event.
More dopey h/h behavior: cultivating jealousy. Never a good idea.
It all worked out but honestly I had more fun with the side-kick characters. Can't wait to see how Castleford manages an adult relationship.