Written by: Beth Woodward, CC2K Books Editor
For some reason, I have been devouring historical romances lately, primarily those taking place in Regency-era England. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe it’s because I’m a big fan of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, and I love seeing the modern writers’ takes on the era. Maybe it’s because, since the time I was a child, I’ve always been a bit of a history nut. Maybe it’s because it all seems more appealing when I don’t have to give up modern conveniences like electricity and deodorant. But however you look at it, I’ve been reading a lot of them. It’s with this in mind that I can say that this is a good, if not great, representative of the genre.
The description, courtesy of Campbell’s website:
Will a week of seduction…
Desperate to save her sister’s life, Sidonie Forsythe has agreed to submit herself to a terrible fate: Beyond the foreboding walls of Castle Craven, a notorious, hideously scarred scoundrel will take her virtue over the course of seven sinful nights. Yet instead of a monster, she encounters a man like no other. And during this week, she comes to care for Jonas Merrick in ways that defy all logic-even as a dark secret she carries threatens them both.
…Spark a lifetime of passionate surrender?
Ruthless loner Jonas knows exactly who he is. Should he forget, even for a moment, the curse he bears, a mere glance in the mirror serves as an agonizing reminder. So when the lovely Sidonie turns up on his doorstep, her seduction is an even more delicious prospect than he originally planned. But the hardened outcast is soon moved by her innocent beauty, sharp wit, and surprising courage. Now as dangerous enemies gather at the gate to destroy them, can their new, fragile love survive?
First of all, the concept of this one bugged me a little bit. Sidonie (don’t even ask me how to pronounce that name) goes to Jonas to pay off her sister’s debt, and Jonas is…well, initially a little bit creepy. He doesn’t force her sexually, but he does look at her naked and touch her body when she’s really not ready or willing. It’s nothing terrible, but it rubbed me the wrong way, and led me to see Jonas as a less sympathetic character initially.
But I definitely dig the scarred, bitter rogue archetype. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen it in historical fiction, but Campbell uses it to good effect. Jonas has good reasons for his bitterness and anger, and it makes the slow revelation of his kindness and compassion more effective.
I told someone recently that romances rises and falls on its characters, and it’s true. The fact is, when you’re reading a romance, you know it’s going to end happily—otherwise, it wouldn’t be classified as a romance. Thus, the most successful romances are the ones that have the most unique characters, ones you root for and remember long after the book is over.
So here’s the situation: I read the book about a week ago. I enjoyed it while I was reading it, but now I’m having trouble thinking about anything to say about it. Jonas’s bitter, scarred rogue stuck out to me a little bit, but mostly because I like that particular archetype. I’ve seen it used to better, more memorable effect in other books. (Elizabeth Hoyt’s To Beguile a Beast comes to mind.) As for Sidonie, I don’t remember much about her besides her compassion for her (mostly undeserving) sister. It didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book as I was reading it, but it remained largely unmemorable to me.
As I said, it’s a decent story, and a fun read if you enjoy historical romance, but it’s not something I’d recommend as an exemplar of the genre.