Author: Mary Balogh
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: December 26, 2007
The last time Madeline Raine had seen James Purnell, she had been but a chit of a girl, and at his mercy. Purnell had held her helpless in his arms - but protectively above the abyss of her own dangerous hunger for him.
He had left her then, not taking her innocence but taking her heart, as he vanished from England. Since then Madeline had reigned as society's most dazzling and heartless beauty, making all men pay for one man's rebuff of her.
Now James was back, more handsome and arrogant than ever. And Madeline steeled herself not to fall under his spell again. But she soon discovered that the melting power of passion ignited by love would not easily die...
I'm an avid reader and a very stubborn one, so there has never been a book that would make me put it down after a few pages and never pick up again. I always fight to the end.
Not with this one.
I came to the half of the second chapter and just couldn't read more.
It started well enough. A man who left it all behind four years before, was coming home. He had mixed feelings about it, though, who wouldn't. Apparently his father was a real pain to live with, and the only person he was looking forward to seeing was his sister. Which was nice.
Said sister was also married to the brother of the woman James has been trying to forget - no, sorry, he has forgotten her, because she was shallow and vain and blah-blah-blah.
Okay, so that was a touchy subject. It always is.
But then, there was James' weird obsession with kissing a girl, fresh out of Catholic church, who was traveling with him, and though her age wasn't specified, it was still a little too creepy for my taste.
So we move into a London parlor, where Madeline, the woman James has forgotten, holds her niece in her lap, talking with her twin brother. Apparently she's fallen in love again and is thinking of getting married at last.
There is a bunch of people present, which could make for a nice family scene, but the narration was so bad I couldn't tell who was talking. Also the relations between the players were never explained, so the following became tedious after a few sentences.
James' sister waltzes into the parlor, yakking about her brother returning and pushing Madeline back four years into a moonlit garden where she let the man in question kiss her and fondle her...
And apparently they've just met. She fell in love with him on the spot, offered herself to him on a silver platter, and when he had her in any way possible, except the biblical one (still in that short escapade in the garden), he left her - rejected her, and she hated him.
I cannot continue. The beginning was so utterly stupid and the narrative so contorted in places, I just couldn't bring myself to read any further.
So I skipped to the end, and even that didn't inspire me to persevere. This one is definitely going on eBay.