Silver Nights by Jane Feather 511
Count Adam Danievski has been sent by Catherine, Empress of Russia, to fetch Princess Sophia Alexeyevna who the empress plans to wed to a general in the army, General Paul Dmitriev, Sophia has grown up in the wilds of Russia with only her grandfather for company and she has enjoyed her freedom and having her own way often. She is unhappy about her planned marriage, but is eventually talked in to going to St. Petersburg where she will get to meet her husband and have final decision on the marriage. On the way she gets to know her escort very well and can't help but wish that Adam was the one that the Empress had picked out for her husband. Paul had originally planned to marry Sophia's mother and was furious when she had married another man, and he plans to exact his revenge by marrying Sophia. He puts on a happy and congenial face and Sophia decides that marriage to him is something she will just have to endure and hope for the best. Unfortunately once she marries him she is horrified to discover that it was all an act and that he has every intention of bringing Sophia into submission and engages in psychological torture in order to do so.
He begins by getting rid of all of her servants and replacing them with spies and keeping her from going out in public or riding her beloved her horse. Adam finds every opportunity to visit Sophia in her new home and he realizes that something is not right, but there is very little that he can do. The little moments they steal together are the happiest in Sophia's life, but her husband keeps such a tight leash on her that they are difficult to find. When Paul discovers that she has asked her grandfather for help he decides it is once and for all time to rid himself of his horrid wife and sends her on a death march that will allow him to play the mourning husband. Adam finds out in time to rescue her and the two begin a season-long honeymoon at her grandfather's palace and try to forget that out in the real world there is very little hope for their relationship. Reality intrudes in the form of a summons from the empress and Paul is furious to learn that his wife has survived his attempt to get rid of her, even more so when he discovers that she is having an affair. He hunts her down with an army, but Adam is there to protect the family that he wants to build with Sophia, and without Paul in the picture there may be hope that the stars will align for these two lovers to be together.
I do not believe I would have picked this book up if I had realized what it was really about because Russia is not really my place of choice and the topic was very heavy. Some of my favorite books are about women who have affairs, but I don't think they are really my choice du jour in romance novels. I read until the wedding in this one and then put it down for a month because I realized it was going to be fairly depressing for awhile and while I am not against heavy topics in a romance novel, her being married to a man who psychologically tortures her was a little too much for me. When I picked it up again I was basically just determined to get through it as soon as possible, which is what I did, even when it really messed with my head. The major focus of this book for me was her getting out of this marriage and it kind of made the romance and relationship a secondary focus. Every time Adam and Sophia were together, or anytime anything was happening, I was worried about Paul and how she was going to escape him or what would happen. This made it very difficult to enjoy the relationship or for me to really be happy for them and really just took over the book for me, which was something I really didn't like.
Both Sophia and Adam were likable characters, strong-willed and independent, but they recognized that they had to play the game that was set before them. Her ability to keep her spirits despite what Paul was putting her through was admirable, and Adam's ability to keep her from losing herself was a really great addition to the book. I was rather surprised when these two admitted to being in love because they really hadn't spent much time together at that point and I didn't really see any love developing. Eventually they do spend more time together and worked well together though, so it did work out. I found the sex rather bland and while they certainly did it a lot, it was really nothing special and got rather flowery and wordy and I skipped over it. I actually really enjoyed the parts of the book that were told from the point of view of Paul because it is nice to get some insight into the mind of the bad guy, and I liked the empress's POV as well because she came across very realistically. I am not really a fan of Feather's writing style as it is very heavy, very wordy, and often branches off into tangents that are important for the novel, but not necessarily for the romance and I want her to get back "on topic" as it were.
Rating: Different than my usual book and while it was intriguing, I could not get into the heaviness, almost depressing nature, of this book.