Friday, February 15, 2013
Isadora Temple has lived with her aunt and uncle since her parents' death and she comforts herself as she works herself to the bone for her cheap family with the knowledge that she will soon come into her inheritance and be able to start her own life. At a house party Lord Julian Rowley, heir to the Duke of Beckworth, mistakes her bedchamber for that of the fantastically beautiful, and very married, Lady Claire Bottomly, and the two are caught in a very compromising position. Sensing the desperation of the situation, Izzy claims that she and Julian are lovers and their betrothal is quickly announced. Izzy and Julian decide that they will go along with the betrothal for a few months, until Izzy comes into her inheritance, and then they will quietly call things off and go on with their lives. This suits both their purposes, as Julian's grandfather is threatening to cut him out of the line of succession, and his father thinks that the plain spinster will be good for his rakehell son. But Julian had not counted on being so drawn to his very proper fiance or for her whole hearted defense of him to his very mean father. For the first time Julian discovers what it would be like to have someone like him and think of him as more than a waste and decides that he doesn't want to fake this betrothal.
Izzy does not ever want to become some man's property and certainly does not want to marry out of necessity, but when she discovers that her family has frittered away her inheritance, she is horrified and does not know quite what to do with herself. Julian is upset as well, but sees this as an opportunity to convince her to marry him and he is willing to use every weapon at disposal, including seduction. Izzy is beginning to fall for Julian and appreciate the changes he has made to himself and the decent man hidden behind the rakish exterior, but she cannot forget that he was meeting someone else for a liasion when they met. Julian feels Izzy slipping away from him, but does not know how to win her over and he becomes fearful that she is transferring her affections to his friend Alex and when the passion of a fight becomes passion of another sort, their marriage is no longer in doubt. But neither knows how to admit to their feelings for fear of being rejected and much pride and fear ensue until a horrible accident makes it clear to both of them that the only thing that matters is their love for the other.
Izzy was a very complex character and there were times when I loved her, but there were also many times that I hated her. I liked that she was not a complainer, but I hated how she often came across as a doormat letting her family take huge advantage of her. I liked that she fought so passionately for those she cared about, but it came across as more than a tad ridiculous when she so virulently defended Julian to his father after having known him for such a short amount of time. I liked that she recognized her own feelings and admitted them to herself, but hated how she covered them up for so long and how that led to so much superfluous angst and heartache. I liked how she was determined to make decision about her own life but it seemed naive considering she was an unmarried women in London in the 19th century. She was full of contradictions, which is definitely a more realistic portrayal of a character, but it also made me frustrated as I found myself waffling between cheering her on and wanting her to make a decision I would agree with. Julian inspired the same contradictory feelings in me, depending on how kind and thoughtful he was being to Izzy so I was left unsure of how to really feel about either of these characters.
Their relationship was tumultuous to say the least as they seemed to be operating at cross purposes for much of the novel and both of them were so concerned that the other didn't share their feelings, that the book dragged by the middle. The two had some moments together, but I really would have liked to see more genuine interactions between these two; scenes where they weren't arguing, weren't constantly worried that their feelings weren't returned, weren't discussing how their relationship wasn't real. That really would have brought the book up in my opinion and would have made their relationship more believable and far more enjoyable. There was very little sex in the book and it was not very hot, lukewarm at best, and lead to such complex problems and more angst that it really did not seem worth it. The writing was definitely slower than I like in my romance novels, hampered by the air of depression the book took on as both of them were worried over whether the other loved them and the book took me far too long to finish.
Rating: A good first half, but the book quickly got bogged down with two characters that suffered from personality disorder and an inability to find happiness.