Author: Sara Craven
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: May, 1981
The last thing Rowan has wanted was to leave London, give up her studies, and go to live in the Lake District—but by the terms of her father's will she and her stepmother Antonia were stick with each other. There was one way out, though—if Antonia were to remarry Rowan would be free, and it soon became clear that Antonia's plan was to marry her 'cousin' Carne Maitland, in whose house they were going to live.
But that brought Rowan into far too close contact with Carne himself—Carne, the one man in the world she wanted, and a man who was totally out of reach.
This book is actually older than me. ;)
Gotta love those vintage Harlequin booklets. It is rather refreshing coming across a book, especially one in the Harlequin/Silhouette line, with quite a good story without the required quota of sex scenes. But this one was written in the beginning of the 80's when the "mattress dancing" in books was definitely a no-no.
I like my books a little on the steamy side, I'm not dead, but I found I didn't miss it that much in this book. The author had woven an intricate plot, heaving with fairy-tale reference, with the evil, conniving stepmother, a naive and stubborn heroine that didn't know that well when to shut it, and a brooding, short-tempered hero with a cradle-robbing fetish...And despite it all, especially the latter, the whole thing still worked. And worked quite well.
It could be dubbed as "Two proud idiots and the evil bitch that should've been pushed off the frickin' cliff" yet it worked. Go figure.
I would've loved to have a little insight into the hero, but though it was written in the third person, it still told the story from the heroine's point of view, occasionally coming off as a little childish and asinine, but that was easily forgotten when the plot started thickening.
The characterization had a little to be desired, except in the case of the evil stepmom that ended up being the most developed character of the bunch and one the reader could more easily understand.
I wasn't put off by the age difference or the jail-bait theme. Maybe because I was prepared (thanks to Danielle's review) or maybe because I knew she wasn't really jail-bait, though the hero didn't. Not that she tried to act her true age, anyway. No wonder he bought the tale...I kept hoping he'd be a little quicker on the uptake, though.
Yes, the story had a dubious plot device, the conflict could've been easily resolved with a little backbone, some bitch-slapping, and a long talk, but I can't help but give it a great rating.
It was entertaining, refreshing (despite its age), and one of those books that once you pick up have to read through just to see what the idiots would come up with next, and to get the usual HEA fix.
If you're a fan of vintage, old-school Harlequin stories, you don't want to miss this one.