I thought long and hard about this rating. I really struggled with it. I love the way JAL depicts people, their feelings, who they are and the interactions between characters. Exquisite and subtle writing. I hope to see more writers exhibit such writing skills. I will continue to read JAL just for that.
I know the book has really great reviews and I can see why. About 80% of me agrees with them on the awesomeness of this book. And I would certainly recommend the book.
That being said, it should be clear enough that I have my reservations.
The good stuff:
1. The writing is really really impressive. Witty, powerful, sensual, with just enough hint to let readers savor the subtleties. JAL is direct when she needs be and subtle when imagination is due. Most intriguing.
2. This book turned the table on the lead characters. Usually it takes the leaving of the heroine to "scare" the hero into some kind of a revelation. Genevieve was served the "I am walking away and you can't convince me to come back unless you profess your undying love" bitter pill. Most unusual.
3. The 20 year age difference was done well in this book. Most admirable.
My "I wish...." stuff:
1. Characterization: I fully appreciate the characterization of Alex and Genevieve. Alex is great, Genevieve is ok. I liked her a lot in the beginning but she went a bit overboard with her youthful infatuation with Harry and was just a tad too wild too quickly. I did feel however, they could be fleshed out more. Maybe it is because I am really interested in Alex and Genevieve and I would love to get to know them better without all the secondary characters such as Harry, Milicent, Olivia and Ian Eversea. Quite a pity.
2. Relationship developement: I feel JAL and I are slightly mismatched somehow. I think highly of her writing but the way she develops her stories...... I always feel that I would have taken the story to a different direction than she did. It is a personal preference though. Not a critique on the book. Rather disappointing, for me that is.
3. Great sex: I know great sex is great (what a poorly formulated sentence but Thank God I am no writer), but for a book to really capture my heart, I need a little more than that. Alex and Genevieve of course, had their moments and their witty banters. I just wish there was more of an emotional attachment between the two. From where I see it, every time Genevieve showed any attachment to Alex, was when she was running around the house looking for Alex for their midnight "rendezvous". That is a 20-year-old girl's budding sexual curiosity, being satistfied by a nearly 40-year-old man.
I read in one review that the book is falsely named. The book should have been named "What a duke did for me" instead of "What I did for a duke. I whole-heartedly agree. Because in reality, Genevieve did very little for the duke. It was Alex who patiently waited for Genevieve to come to her senses, which is how it should be. I imagine in a May/December relationship such as it is between Alex and Genevieve, it would be odd if the young girl was the one doing the "tutoring". Alex was a man in his own right. He had a formidable title, money, influence, respect, confidence, he even had love once in his life. He lacked NOTHING, nothing at all. One could argue that he did not have love, but well, he could have "loved" just about any woman, I think, and built a reasonably rewarding life with any woman who could fit into the role. A wholesome man like Alex does not need a "special" woman to find love. Come on ladies, most men are simple creatures.
Genevieve however, nursed her broken heart over Harry for so long in this book that it really bothered me. A "sensible" woman such as Genevieve or how she was supposed to be in this book, should be able to recognize sooner that her feelings for Harry were inconsequential in comparison to those for Alex. But that is the one real conflict in this book so I understand why JAL could not let it go. I just wish.....oh well, wish for a more soul-searching kind of relationship for Alex and Genevieve. Sex plays such an important role in their relationship and considering how "more advanced" in age Alex is than Genevieve, the practical person in me has to wonder. (I will not elaborate on what I would be wondering about.)
Honestly after having written such a lengthy review, I still could not decide on a rating. I am going with 4 stars for now. It was gripping, I will give the book that. My disapointments, are my own.
ps. Why is Alex being referred to as Moncrieffe in the book? He is Duke of Falconbridge, Alexander Moncrieffe. Shouldn't he be "Falconbridge" or "Lord Falconbridge"? Why is he called "Moncrieffe" or "Lord Moncrieffe"? That is his last name, not his title. But I am no expert on this. I was just wondering......