Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Swept Away by a Kiss

Swept Away by a Kiss by Katharine Ashe 1125

Lady Valerie Monroe was exiled to America by her father, the Earl of Alverton, for her flirtatious and scandalous behavior but upon his death she is called back to England. While at sea she meets Etienne, a French priest, whom she feels far from fatherly towards. When her ship is taken by pirates she and Etienne are brought on board the pirate ship by their crazy captain who wants her to be more experienced before he finally rapes her. He sets up scenarios that he thinks will test the religious man's will power and lead to Valerie's corruption, but Etienne has secrets of his own. He is in fact Viscount Stephen Ashford and the ship they are on is his own and he uses it to hunt slave traders and disrupt their business. He knows that Valerie is something special but he is destined to live his life alone so when he finally regains control of the ship he leaves her in London with no plans to see her ever again. Back in England Valerie tries to move on with her life but she cannot get the French priest out of her mind until a house party in the country.

Valerie attends a holiday party given by Lord and Lady March, Stephen's godparents, and the two once again come face to face. Both pretend that they do not know each other and watch with jealousy as they each flirty madly with the other members of their party. Valerie is horrified to think that Stephen was merely playing her and has no true feelings for her while Stephen regrets the way things has to be but thinks it is for Valerie's own good that he is doing all this. It isn't long before Valerie begins picking up on some of Stephen's going on and realizes that there is something that Stephen is hiding from her. When she discovers a servant rifling through her possessions she decides that she is going to take the initiative and discover for herself what is going on. She discovers what Stephen does and that he is attempted to dig up evidence on one of the other guests at the house party. Wanting to help him, Valerie puts her own safety at risk, angering Stephen, but also forcing him to realize that Valerie is something special and that, while he has always thought of himself as a lone wolf, she is worth taking a big risk and sharing himself with someone.

This book was incredibly gloomy. I cannot think of a single instance where either of these characters could be considered happy or excited. They both spent the entire time mired in depression and sad thoughts and it took no time at all for me to start completely hating this. Romance novels do not have to be endlessly cheery, but there is a limit to how much doom I can take in any book and this book definitely crossed it. And of course being constantly depressed made it impossible for me to figure how either of these two managed to fall in love with the other. Seriously, who falls in love with someone who never smiles? I will also say that the situation on board the pirate ship bordered on the ridiculous with an insane captain who tied her up and then left her for Stephen to untie, thinking that Stephen would eventually sleep with her. Supposedly they both were sexually excited by this and I just could not figure out how they could become aroused in such a horrific situation where both of them (should have been) worried for their lives. Both acted TSTL throughout the ordeal on the ship really.

I wanted to admire Valerie for her ability to use her feminine wiles to manipulate people, at least when it was for a good cause, but because she was so depressed and unhappy about the situation it went from admirable to blah. Stephen's drive to end slavery was only partly explained and I felt like it could have been done much better as obviously slavery is something that a person should have strong emotions about. The two spent barely any time together, less still when they weren't both worried about a madman, and absolutely no getting to know you or being happy together time. They were both very attracted to each other and there was gloomy sexual tension throughout the book but even the sex was overshadowed by depression and thoughts on the slavery plot so I really could not get into it. I was excited somewhat by the plot to stop the slave traders and I liked that Valerie was able to get involved in order to help the man she loved. There was some nice betrayal going on as well but the plot was not really developed enough to completely get into. There were no major side characters to distract from the lack of character coming from the two main protagonist.

Rating: Fairly obviously this book was a major failure on all levels and I was just completely overwhelmed by this downer of a book.

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