ah I don't want this book to end. I told myself to stop at 70%.
So instead of finishing the book, I am poring over the reviews. It is always absolutely fascinating to see different opinions on one book and how everyone responds differently. Since I am on the positive side, I pay more attention to negative reviews. I want to know what ticked them off, what annoyed them. It is kind of an anthropological inquiry for me.
Since many reviews have done a great job of detaling the plots, I will leave that out in this particular review. I want to say something about the characters and the relationship. I like the story, and it has everything to do with being able to relate to the personalities.
Let's start with Melisande. Some say that Melisande is boring, unfeeling, passive and a doormat. I suppose she is all that, if you do not know what it is like to be an introvert with a pride issue. So very often that we are a lot of things, it is how you see it that makes the real difference. I suppose for someone who appreciates an outgoing girl who is outspoken and full of life, one would find Melisande bland and boring. She was 28 years old, once heartbroken by a then suitor and secretly in love with Jasper, the hero in this book, for 6 years. I could totally imagine why she would keep quiet and like to stay in the background. It is bad enough that you are in love with someone how hardly notices you. I would most certainly hide away any affections. Not everyone wants to wear her heart on her sleeves in love.
I don't want to "fight" for love nor do I appreciate aggressive pursuits of females. This is something I simply would not do. If someone else wants to do it, be my guest. It doesn't mean I think it is smart. Any introverts would understand, being reserved does not mean being a doormat. It simply means: I do not deem it necessary to speak up. If that makes me passive or boring, I can live with that. For me, it is better than having a "loud" personality. I think this is why I feel an affinity to Melisande. I feel that I know at least a part of her, the part where she held herself in pride and silence, the part that she did not feel comfortable disclosing unless in the protection of darkness.
Then there is her fortitude, Quiet strength. Melisande is a "plain Jane" character. Most writers would capitalize on that, make her an insecure spinster. But Elizabeth Hoyt took a different route. Melisande may not be the most beautiful girl in the room, but she is a woman. And every woman, plain or not, has her charms.
For most of the book, I had great fun with Jasper. I thought him funny. I read that some readers thought him a cad and find his first "lovemaking" attempt pathetic. Maybe so. But this is how Elizabeth Hoyt intended it to be, no? She wanted to write a lame first sex scene because how could it be good? I appreciate that scene much better than I would have a fantastic sexual awakening. This is about 2 people coming to learn about each other physically without knowing each other well. If the first time turned out to be awkward, is this so unusual? I mean it is great and all that the man is a great lover, but I get tired of great lovers. If skills are all what matters, why do we bother with getting to know each other? Men should just display their "skills" in courtships and we pick whoever is best at "firing our passions".
I have always felt that sex scenes in romance novels are abused. Many writers use sex to spice things up for the readers. Not Elizabeth Hoyt. She writes steamy intimate scenes but she puts them there for a reason. It provides the characters an opportunity to really see each other as a partner in an intimate act. It is the time where 2 people come together in bodies, and in a Hoyt novel, in souls.
This book is not my favorite book ever, in the sense that I am not emotionally invested in Jasper and Melisaned. There are other stories who really hit a note in my heart, To seduce a sinner is not one of them (hence no 5 stars). But it is well-written and an extremely entertaining romance story. Great character development. Worth every penny.