Sinful Surrender by Beverley Kendall
Millicent "Missy" Armstrong has been in love with her brother's best friend, James Rutherford, since she was a young child. Before her first season she officially revealed her feelings for him and in response Rutherford had very little to do with her for the next three years. There paths do begin crossing again and Missy's brother, Thomas, decides that the best way to cure Missy of her infatuation is to show her what a rake and heart breaker James is. The decision certainly makes Missy incredibly jealous and upset with James, but it does not stop her from going weak in the knees every time James is near. James is also very attracted to Missy and has a very difficult time keeping his hands off of her. Despite his claims to want nothing to do with Missy he hates the thought of her marrying someone else or even of another man touching her. He does not succeed very long in not touching Missy and the two are groping each other every chance they get. One night while dreaming of Missy, James is visited by Lady Victoria, who seduces him while he is VERY heavily intoxicated- he has no memory of the event in fact.
Shortly after this event he succumbs to his desires when Missy shows up at his doorstep and it is quite explosive. James is unable with what he has to do as Thomas has made it VERY clear that James is not allowed near Missy, much less allowed to marry her, but James knows that this is what he must do. Unfortunately Lady Victoria reappears claiming to be pregnant with James' child. James is devastated but he knows what he must do. Missy is horrified when she learns that James is getting married and that he is expecting a child with another woman. She vows that she will get over James and move on with her life, but she can not stop herself from wanting him and throwing longing glances at him whenever he is near. Luckily James finds out that Victoria has tricked him and she is carrying another man's child leaving the way for James and Missy. But Missy has, belatedly, developed a (very weak) backbone and refuses to marry for James for anything left than love. James has always believed himself incapable of love because of his parents love, but things are not what they seem and it is up to James to prove to Missy that he has changed and can return her feelings.
Well the whole reason for upset in this book is that James can not under any circumstances marry Missy because Thomas has decreed it so. He believes that James will be a bad husband because he will cheat on Missy and break her heart, however no mention is ever made of the fact that most men in the ton kept mistresses. So it really just seemed ridiculous that Thomas was so vehement that it not be James as he was in line for an Earldom and he was not a fortune hunter. But my biggest complaint is a HUGE one: namely that James is an ass. I cannot think of a better word for him because he proves himself over and over to be an awful person. He is constantly cold around Missy, he claims he only wants her sexually, he engages himself to another woman shortly after ruining her, and Missy never stops and ruminates about the things that made her fall in love with James. I kept waiting and waiting for something to come up, even if it was just a mention of something that had happened in the past, but I waited in vain. A romance novel cannot be very good if I spent it just wanting to slap the heroine and tell her to marry someone else.
I have to admit I am a huge sucker for the brooding and angst that accompanies unrequited love and Kendall writes it beautifully and with quite an emotional punch. But it took up far too much of the book and really got in the way of knowing the characters at all. The only real thing's we learned about Missy was that she loved James and I learned about her family members and that she can't play the piano. I have no idea what she wants out of life, what she likes to do in her spare time, or (as I already stated) why she fell in love with James. There are literally one paragraph that dumps on the reader that James has sympathy with the common working man! That's it! And one paragraph where James reflects on Missy's intelligence and candor, and although we are not really given examples of this, we are supposed to know that that is what attracts him to her. Basically the only thing they had going for them that was in the book was physical attraction and even that did not come to fruition enough to do any sort of damage control for the other areas where the book lacked.
Rating: Really this book deserves one heart because there was so little character existence at all and an equally dismal amount of romantic development. But I am a sucker for brooding and angst. DO NOT read if you are not.