There were some very good things about this book, and some pretty big let downs. If I could give two sets of stars to this book for the first half and the second half separately, I would give the first half a high 4 stars and the second half 2 stars at best.
First, the characters, Edward & Anna, are unfortunately under developed. Anna is easy to read and a nice break from the typical historical heroine. She’s not too headstrong, nor too innocent. But that’s about as much as you can say about her. Edward, on the other hand, seems to be desperately trying to be just like all the typical historical heroes (an angry, virile, rake that hates social trivialities and has a massive temper that only seems to be quelled by the books heroine), and failing miserably. He is none of the things that he is described as. And that’s mostly a good thing. I just wish Elizabeth Hoyt had described him appropriately, because his actions and thoughts don’t match.
Edward is more hurt than angry. He’s also not much of a rake. While he does frequent a brothel, he does not have kept women on the side or an ever rotating set of conquests coming through his doors. In fact, he’s very clearly a one woman type of man. While he does have a bit of a temper, it’s not the quiet, brooding, heart pounding type of temper. It’s more like he throws temper tantrums. Which is, by far, the thing I dislike the most about him. He throws things… not at people, he just throws them, like a whiney baby. I can’t think of anything less masculine. It really takes away from whatever sex appeal has been built up since the last time he threw something.
And Edward is sexy, despite the fact that he’s covered in scars from small pox and starts out the book being described like a hideous troll, Elizabeth Hoyt does a marvelous job of transforming him into one of the sexiest heroes I’ve read. And that’s in large part because he’s actually quite a gentle and understanding soul. He’s good. He’s not mean or scary. And is temper is not only quelled by Anna. It’s generally, not there, except in a few parts of the story where it feels forced because Hoyt felt the need to drive home this manufactured part of his character. In short, his character is incongruous, which is unfortunate.
The main plot of this book is their relationship. For the most part, the story is propelled forward by it’s development, which is done nicely. The sub-plot, however, is weak, undeveloped and uninteresting. It was largely in place to string together additional conflict between Anna & Edward, which could have been done more effectively with a little creative thinking on the authors part.
In the first half of the book, Hoyt does a great job building the characters relationship. It has a “slow burn” quality about it and she successfully builds Anna & Edwards desire for each other. It is rife with sexual tension and anticipation. There is a feeling of yearning for each other that is built up and kindled excellently until you almost can’t stand it anymore. And when they finally do come together, its near perfection.
But only *near* perfection, because this is where things start to go wrong. The first two sex scenes are hot. Very hot…for Anna. You can feel her breathlessness, her desire reach its peak, her heart pound with lust and ache from this feeling of unrequited love that she’s experiencing without even being fully aware of it. But during both of these scenes, there is nothing from Edwards perspective. They are notably devoid of any insights to his emotional or physical state during the actual act. Everything you learn about how he felt comes later and the scenes are rushed.
Then, all the build up, the tension, the strife, the desire, that is created during the first half of the book is magnificently absent during the second half of the book. I’m not sure what happened, but at this point the writing begins to feel rushed and lack development. While I appreciate when a plot is not drawn out for the sake of adding extra pages, this was the opposite. Typically at the end of a romance there is a big conflict that ultimately results in them coming together. Here the “big” conflict, lasted a few pages at most. The sub-plot poorly comes to a head and is resolved in the matter of one conversation for each of the characters. Edward is heartbroken for about half a page before someone conveniently explains that its not Anna’s fault (typical romance stuff right there). Edward gets angry with the perpetrator, there is a fight, and he and Anna are back together for about half a page before the book ends. Rushed. After the first half of the book, it was so disappointing.
My final disappointment with the book was the actual dialogue. It was stilted and uninspired. There was nothing remotely interesting about it. What kept me reading was the descriptive emotions at the beginning of the book and then the sexy love scenes at the end of the book. I would have liked the end to have the same emotional heaviness of the first half, but sadly it didn’t.
I might give another of Elizabeth Hoyts books a chance. But only if I run out of other stuff to read first.