Friday, November 30, 2012

Return of the Viscount

Return of the Viscount by Gayle Callen

Cecilia Mallory grew up India as her mother dragged her and her brothers around the country, following Cecilia's father who was an officer in the British army. When one of her brothers dies, they were twins, she moves back to England and vows never to return to India. Once her father dies her brother inherits the Earldom and proceeds to run the estate into the ground; he drinks and gambles and generally avoids all responsibilities to his title and leaves Cecilia to pick up the pieces. Cecilia can only gain access to her inheritance through marriage so she decides to marry Seargant Michael Blackwell, a friend of her father's in the army, believing him to be her father's contemporary. Michael joined the army, despite his title, to prove himself and even went so far as to enlist as an ordinary soldier instead of buying a commission. He agrees to Cecilia's mad scheme as a favor to his old captain whom Michael respected, but believes there must be something about Cecilia that makes ordinary marriage an impossibility. After being wounded in action he returns to England to meet his wife and both of them are in for a huge surprise; Cecilia is beautiful and intelligent and Michael is young and virile.

While Michael decides it would be an excellent idea to make their marriage work, Cecilia has no intention of having a real marriage and makes no secret of her determination to avoid any commitment with Michael. Michael sees that he will have an uphill battle trying to win over a woman who has grabbed control of her life and sees giving up that control as a failure and refuses to allow anyone to help her or have any say in what she does. He takes the tack of silently supporting her and offering his advice only when asked and slowly Cecilia comes to see that Michael is not out to steal her independence or insult her choices. But no matter how much they grow to love each other and depend on each other there is the problem of his career and her desire to stay in England and nurture her estate and possible family. A shocking discovery shows Cecilia that she must overcome her fears and inhibitions in order to have a happy ending with the man who loves her.

This is the start of a new trilogy about wounded soldiers that Callen is starting and I'm hoping that she was just working out some kinks because I felt like this fell far from her previous works. I wanted to like Cecilia because she was independent and intelligent and had no fear of going after what she needed. However, I quickly lost any appreciation I had for her as I read about her treatment of Michael and any respect I had for her when she continually stuck up from her brother no matter what horrible things he, or his friends, did. She refused to see what was right in front of her nose when it came to Michael and was quite mean to him and could not admit her feelings for him until the very end. It was like Callen attempted to switch the typical romance novel stereotype by having the female scared of her feelings instead of the male, but I dislike it either way. Michael was a pretty great guy, not least because he stuck by Cecilia throughout all of her awfulness even if I couldn't really understand why. He was very supportive and worked with Cecilia's issue and was generally very caring of her feelings.

They did not spend as much quality time together as I would have liked, and despite the fact that they did live in the same house I wasn't really able to see how they would function as a couple since Cecilia never let her guard down and it was like Michael had to walk on eggshells around her. I just did not really sense a loving, caring, relationship based on mutual respect and trust between these two. Cecilia was terrified of being tied to Michael so there was very little sex between them and it was, quite frankly, barely lukewarm. I was not a fan. There was the little mystery of who was trying to harm Cecilia and that was a surprising bright spot in the novel because it really was a mystery and I had no idea who could be behind the attacks. However, I did role my eyes every time Cecilia refused to admit she could be in trouble because I hate that in heroines who are in danger. The ending, and the resolution to their major problem, happened abruptly, and did not really seem in character with Cecilia. To top everything off the book was boring and incredibly slow moving and hard to get through. I had an incredibly hard time finishing the book and kept putting it down because there was nothing drawing me to finish the book; reading it was really just a chore.

Rating: A boring book with a very weak relationship between a heroine I didn't like and a hero who was a bit of a blah and only a tiny little mystery to stitch it together.

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