Monday, May 30, 2011
An Affair Without End
Lady Vivian Carlyle enjoys her life; she is unmarried and while she pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable in an unmarried lady she is invited to all the right parties and everyone wants to socialize with her. She has accepted responsibility for introducing Camellia and Lily Bascombe out into society as a special favor for her friend Oliver, Earl of Stewkesbury. Oliver is proper, staid, and regarded as one of society's most upright citizens and he and Vivian have always rubbed each other the wrong way. While they were nothing more than neighbors they were able to avoid too much contact with each other, but with his cousins requiring more attention from Vivian, the two of them are thrown together quite a bit. When a friend of Vivian's enlists her help in finding a missing brooch, Oliver appoints himself Vivian's protector to ensure that she does not get into too much trouble. At first Vivian regards Oliver's attention as obnoxious, but it is not long before both of them are learning that there is far more to their relationship than they had believed.
The two become more engrossed in the search for the jewels and connect this particular missing jewel to a series of jewel thieves that have been operating in the ton for months. Their search leads them to a country estate where they are stranded for the night and after a few too many drinks Oliver finds himself giving into temptation and into Vivian. He is horrified about what happened because it goes against his code as a gentleman but Vivian has no regrets and boldly suggests that they become lovers for real. While he can't imagine actually marrying Vivian, he also can't imagine spending the rest of his life without her. Vivian realizes that underneath his proper exterior is a man that makes her life special, a man she is quickly coming to love. But the jewel thieves are still out there and are more determined than ever to protect their business, whatever the cost. When they threaten Vivian, Oliver must put aside all of his "gentleman-ly" tactics in order to save the woman he loves, put aside their past differences, and create a happy future for both of them.
An Affair Without End is the conclusion to the Willowmere series which I have enjoyed immensely and both the previous books have been building to the finale featuring Vivian and Oliver. The classic mismatched couple that complements each other perfectly, this book did not break any new ground when it came to heroes and heroines, but Camp is such a skilled author that she does manage to make her book seem new and interesting. I enjoyed Vivian because she was a social butterfly who liked the endless social whirl of the season and doing the social niceties with the ton. A lot of authors, in an attempt to be different make their heroines country mice who prefer horses and small groups, and in doing so those heroines become typical and the social butterflies are more original. So I liked that and the fact that Vivian was an older unmarried lady, 28 is not so old but is practically ancient in romances, and while she enjoyed her unmarried state, there wasn't a huge deal made about it. She was fun and friendly, but I did kind of enjoy when she learned that there was only so much she could push society.
Oliver was also the typical proper hero and I did not find quite as much fun or interesting about him as I did with Vivian, but I guess I'm never going to get tired of reading about these kinds of heroes so I liked him as much as I like most romance novel males. Their relationship went smoothly, if typically, and the sex was enjoyable if not exactly hot or inventive. I enjoyed their interactions together, especially when they were not dealing with the jewel ring. The jewel thief plot line was really intense and took up a lot of room and while it did not overwhelm the story, I did not really enjoy it at all. I was bored and just really wanted it to end, but I did like that I was surprised by what happened by the time it was revealed who the big bad guy was. I really enjoyed the side romance featuring Camellia and Vivian's brother Gregory, because it was sweet and really did feature two original characters and they worked together so incredibly well. There were a few moments in the book that featured female characters doing TSTL things and that irritated me a little.
Rating: A fairly unoriginal, yet well written, romance with two characters who had a really strong relationship, but I was unimpressed with the jewel side plot.