I started this book after a pretty bad day at work and though I'd escape into my romance stories. My expectation was "make me forget what a crappy day it was".
And it did an ok job, albeit being rather abrupt and occasionally, ridiculous. It is full of cliche and features a hero who I cannot say that I respect.
What saved the book was:
1. Lorraine Heath's writing
2. The lead characters, even though Hero was kind of an ass.
Having read quite a few Heath novels I think I respond well to her writing. It flows and is no hardship to follow. But I think characters and plot lines need more work in this book. The hero, Earl of Westcliffe, was supposed to be really mad at his wife Claire for her "infidelity" on their wedding night. But he appeared to forget about it and went from "I hate you don't care about you" to being a good host overnight. This is just one example of how I experienced "huh? What?" In this story. One moment he was determined to marry his mistress the next he was in love with Claire then all of a sudden he was back with his mistress for dinner. WTF man?
I know the topic "infidelity" bother some readers. Me not so much. But what bothered me is that I don't get Westcliffe. I mean either you are a cad and repent later, or you never really were serious about your mistress. I noticed that Heath sometimes writes men like this. They are so fixated on another woman for a majority part of the story then come around in the 2nd half of the book to the heroine. I guess for me I am missing some evidence that the heros ever really wanted to be with the heroines. They just didn't seem all that interested in a relationship with the heroines and usually chose to be brutally honest about their feelings (I am not interested in you but this other woman who I am going to marry) too. Westcliffe was very fixated on his mistress and wanted to marry her. For a while I really thought he had a thing going with his mistress. This made his turn-about that much more unbelievable.
OK this is enough ranting about a man who obviously does not know what he wants. I liked Claire though. She is my type of girl, quiet and mature, no stupid "wishes" for fun and adventure. I think she saved the book for me, more than Westcliffe.
I followed the book with above average attention. It was not difficult to put down but I don't want to. It was a rather smooth read with a lot of cliche. It doesn't bother me so I had a ok time reading it.
p.s. 1: I don't think anyone called Westcliffe by his first name in this book. He was always referred to as Westcliffe, which is his title. His mother mentioned his name "Morgan" in passing twice maybe and I remember I was thinking Morgan who???
p.s. 2: I think the portrait a very nice ruse. I don't know why Heath did not continue that. She kind of started it and just left it there. I thought the portrait would play a larger role in the story, to capture the gradual changes in their relationship. But it was just left like that: the portrait was started and mentioned twice, and never to be heart from again. I thought it a pity.