I admit, I could not finish this book. I read a little over half of it and abandoned it by page 227. What an incredible disappointment! This book is… so… dreadfully… boring. The plot, two clans at war with each other are forced together by a marriage decreed by the king, could be interesting enough, but somehow the author has completely failed to raise any excitement or conflict about that overarching part of the story line and absolutely nothing happens that is worth reading. Events in the book are made up of Graeme talking to his brothers and sister to garner acceptance of Eveline, Eveline getting bullied by his clan and hanging out with his sister, dull conversations over breakfast and dinner, Graeme & Eveline continuously ending up asleep without talking to one another. Wash. Rinse. Repeat for nearly 200 pages.
The hero and heroine are hardly even in the same room together. By my estimation, they’ve spent 75% of the book apart up to the point where I stopped reading. There are a lot of other characters talking about Eveline and their concern for her, but not much that actually includes her. Meanwhile, she’s off getting picked on and taken advantage of by secondary characters who have almost no character development. They exist for the sole purpose of proving a point that Eveline has it hard. There is no other point to their involvement in the story. In 200 pages Eveline has swam in a river, toured the keep, eaten a couple times, slept, and somehow managed to develop feelings of trust for Graeme, who is hardly ever around, but is nice to her.
I’m not exaggerating when I say they have one meaningful conversation, which starts when Eveline has no other choice but to reveal her secret to Graeme because she was bullied. She explains it quite easily, with very little resistance to the idea, despite the fact that she has been hiding it out of fear for three years. The rest of their conversations are incredibly inconsequential. A smile here, a kiss there, a shrug, a single touch, a question of concern or a simple statement. That is the entirety of their dialogue in the first 200 pages. Everything else develops outside of the two of them together.
This is perhaps the least compelling book I have read in a long, long time. I grew tired of hearing about their family dispute, which never evolved or changed. It’s a myriad of the same conversation repeated time and again. The family rivalry… People don’t like her… Graeme will not have it… It was literally the same conversation just said in differently arranged sentences. Any other conversation is merely filler and lacks creativity. Need the hero and heroine to end up alone together? Let’s have a mean person spill something on her.
And that is the extent of the conflict in the book. All generated by the new clan Eveline was living with, and essentially they weren’t any more complicated than a bunch of schoolyard bullies. Someone pours ale on Eveline… They call her names… She is lied to about chores… What an exciting read!!! There aren’t even exciting moments between hero and heroine.
The only reason I got so far into this book is because I was waiting for something to happen. I read a little past the first love scene, which I was waiting for, but even that was a let down. It reads like all the events in the book, as inconsequential as they are, are just there to give the two a reason to have sex, as opposed to the sex being a natural result of their blossoming relationship. Don’t get me wrong…. I like a romance with a lot of love scenes, so this is not a complaint that the scene was even there. If anything they needed so much more to happen between them to get to this point and have it really feel like a moment. There was no heat between. No sexual tension. No buildup. There was hardly even a kiss between the two. There were no longing looks, no seeking each other out just to be near to each other, no finding a reason just to touch the other one. The one love scene I read was well written. But there was nothing romantic or emotional about it. Afterwards there was no glow or reveling in it, it was just on with the story. Eveline doesn’t think about it at all and there is a single paragraph about Graeme not being able to stop thinking about it. And then they are consumed with trivial plot devices.
…and that is where I gave up.
Perhaps the second half of this book is where the redeeming qualities are, but I couldn’t stand to trudge through it a moment longer. It was exasperating and a chore to read.