Wednesday, January 4, 2012
The Bride Wore Scarlet
Anais de Rohan learned at an early age that she was destined for a life as a Guardian, protecting those who were blessed with "the Gift" and she spent her life training under a master for her future. Geoffrey, Lord Bassett, is one of the leaders of the St. James Society, a society where Guardians are trained, and he is not at all pleased that Anais is seeking entry into this completely male society but he admires that she refuses to give up. St. James society has recently learned that there is a little girl, Giselle Moreau who has the gift and since she has recently been taken in by her uncle, whose political motives and plans for the girls' future are suspect, Bassett has been called in to help get the girl and her mother Charlotte to England as quickly and quietly as possible. Anais knows she will have to prove herself to the society and she agrees to pose as Bassett's wife as the travel to Belgium to save the girl and living in such close quarters with Geoff poses its' own set of problems for Anais who believes that she is destined to marry an Italian because of her grandmother's predictions.
The situation in Belgium is even more dire than they had imagined as Giselle is kept in relative imprisonment inside her uncle's home and her mother, Charlotte, is almost constantly watched and has very little freedom. Anais and Bassett pretend to be harmless and a tad ridiculous Englishmen, befriend Charlotte, and hope that her uncle will regard them as harmless. Anais is surprised to discover that Bassett himself has the gift and that it haunted his childhood until he learned to control it. This startling confession brings them closer together and unites them as they work together to get everyone to safety. Training and living in such close confines brings the sexual tension that boils between them to a head and even while refusing to believe that Bassett could be the one for her she has no problem thinking of him as Mr. Right Now. Bassett knows they have a job to do but cannot help but think about the future and how he will convince Anais that he is the one she has been waiting for and that together they can accomplish anything.
Anais is strong and confident and very independent but she was also realistic enough to realize when she needed to work with others, prove herself to others, and I like that she did not complain about her what she went through and just did it. She was in charge of herself and her body and I liked that she didn't apologize or have regrets about not being a virgin and went after what she wanted even if society wouldn't appreciate it without believing that she was going to get a marriage proposal out of it. She was accepting of help and worked well with others and looked after her own safety and wasn't scared of compromising and doing things purely to keep the peace. Geoff was strong but also not scared of compromising with Anais and recognized that she was just as strong and capable as him, but still felt like as the man he was responsible for her well being. They worked incredibly well together as they tried to save the women and the sex between them was really hot because they were both very physical and confident and not scared of physical intimacy outside of a relationship.
They obviously spent a lot of time together and while they did get to know each other very well, I felt like their knowledge of each other was in the context of the St. James society. Sure, they shared secrets about their pasts, but I would have liked to see how they interacted in the real world and how they would get along without the threat of danger or intrigue. While I felt like their relationship was predicated on the plot of the Society and the Gift I did not feel like the romance was overwhelmed; I felt like it was an equal part of the book and felt like Carlyle was very skilled at balancing two very strong plots. However that other plot just did not do it for me. I am not a fan of large intrigue and mystery plots in general and I really am not a fan of supernatural things like "the Gift" and I really don't like secret societies of men who have very important duties. I wish it could have just been about rescuing the girl and her mother from an admittedly very well written and interesting villain. I found myself confused by the names of other people in the story and did not like so many references to Carlyle's previous books.
Rating: A strong romance with two characters I really liked but I did not enjoy the background of the entire book.