Friday, July 20, 2012
Passion Wears Pearls
Eleanor Beckett was trained to be a lady but when her father's patents are stolen and her parents die with nothing, she is thrown out on the streets to make her way. After her employer tries to find her a protector, Eleanor has nothing until artist Josiah Hastings storms in and saves her. Josiah is estranged from his family because of his not-so-respectable profession and is part of The Jaded, a group of men who spent time in an Indian prison together before escaping with a fortune in jewels. Josiah knows that it is only a matter of time before he goes completely blind and he has been desperately fighting the onset of blindness and trying to hide his deficiency from his friends. When he sees Eleanor his vision becomes crystal clear and he knows he has to paint her no matter the cost. Eleanor does not want any scandal attached to her name and definitely does not want to be thought of as a kept woman, but with no other option, agrees to become Josiah's model. The two work out a very generous contract that gives Eleanor quite a bit of money, even if she decides to opt out of being painted.
Eleanor and Josiah spend a great deal of time together as he paints her picture with both of them determined to ignore the passion they feel for each other. But as Eleanor comes to see how noble Josiah is and begins to suspect the secret he is trying to hide from everyone, she cannot help but fall in love with him. Eleanor is everything that Josiah has always known he can't have and when she admits her own feelings and her desire for him there is nothing that can stop him from having her. However, he knows that with his eyesight going he is no match for the beautiful and accomplished young woman and he has no intention of tying her to him. But Josiah and his fellow Jaded members are trying to capture the villain who is after them and is causing problems for all of them and when Eleanor finds out she fears for his safety. She feels she has no choice but to fight for the man she loves, even if his stubborn pride stands in their way, and when her life is endangered Josiah knows that he too will do anything for her.
I have read all of the other books in The Jaded series, but I will admit that I promptly forgot them upon finishing as none of them really had anything that stuck to me. This book followed in that pattern and I imagine that in a week I will remember almost nothing about it because there was simply no oomph or spark to really hold me. Eleanor and Josiah were both interesting enough and while I recognize that it's difficult to write a character that's different and unique when there are so many other books, I felt like Bernard was trying to make them unique and in doing so made them poorly ordinary. Josiah's blindness would have been intriguing except his stunning visual clarity when viewing Eleanor made it just ridiculous, completely unrealistic, and plain annoying. I am not an art connoisseur by any means and was completely uninterested in any of the talks of painting and mixing colors and rhapsodizing descriptions of Josiah's talents.
Eleanor was annoying in her righteous indignation at everything that didn't adhere to her very strict moral standards and it gets very tiresome. She goes on and on about holding onto her virtue and that makes it even worse when she does give in to her desire for him because it seems so out of character and smacked of hypocrisy. They certainly spent a good deal of time together, but it was entirely in his studio which presented a very insular space for them to be together and did not show me how they would work together in the real world. The sex between the was pretty hot and frequent enough but was crammed into a very small portion of the book. I felt like once they had given into their mutual passion the "problems" between them took on a superfluous air and the book seriously dragged. I found The Jaded plot to be haphazardly thrown into the mix and it did not fit in at all with the rest of the story and since it was really such a short little bit I didn't really get into it.
Rating: A problematic book with annoying problems and a subplot that I found myself completely uninterested in and rather boring characters.