Thursday, April 23, 2009

Review: If You Deceive by Kresley Cole

Title: If You Deceive
Series: MacCarrick Brothers
Author: Kresley Cole
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: May 22, 2007
Publisher: Pocket
ISBN: 1416503617
ISBN-13: 9781416503613

Burning vengeance...
Ethan MacCarrick was a heartbreakingly handsome rake until a powerful nobleman ordered him brutally beaten and his face scarred for a crime he didn't commit. Ethan's reprisal—bankrupting the nobleman and forcing his exile—does little to appease his wrath. Ten years later, a haughty, mysterious beauty enchants Ethan—the daughter of his enemy. At last, Ethan will have the revenge he's craved; he'll promise her marriage, seduce her, then cast her aside.

Bitter hardships...
When Madeleine van Rowen's family was suddenly plunged into destitution and dishonor, she steeled herself against further heartache. She never weakened, never trusted, until a towering, scarred Highlander relentlessly pursues her, breaking down her defenses.

At what price forgiveness?
The passion between them burns hotter than Ethan's fury, and soon he finds he can't let her go. But when Madeleine uncovers the truth about him, can Ethan convince her to accept all he now offers—when he once destroyed everything she had?

My rating:

Yes, this is the best book in the series. I don't care much about what happens to the previous two, but this one is staying with me for a bit, I'll definitely read it again.
Maybe Ms. Cole should've added a few more brothers to the MacCarrick brood, since it seems this series improves with time.

From the first book onward I was intrigued by Ethan, the oldest MacCarrick brother. The hints and innuendos sparkled throughout the two previous stories created almost a mythological quality around the man...His scar, his cold demeanor, his deadened eyes, the mysterious death of his fiancée...All this made me literally itch to read his story.

And I admit I wasn't disappointed. Far from it.

The emotional roller coaster this books takes the reader on is extraordinary and extremely well-developped and plotted, holding unforeseen depths I'm utterly glad I explored.

The prologue introduces us to an Ethan, completely different from the Ethan we came to know in his brothers' books. Ten years ago he was a drunken, whoring libertine...Whose destiny is completely changed by a chance encounter in a country inn. And it is the punishment for the act he didn't commit that sets the grounds for the true story that picks up ten years later.

I could easily say that Ethan MacCarrick was one of the best developped male characters I've ever read about. In the course of this book he goes through so many changes it could easily make your head spin, not being able to tell top from bottom, yet the author did a splendid job of keeping him and the reader (more or less) grounded, despite all the upheavals he and the story went through.
We first meet him as a good-for-nothing, handsome bastard intent on bedding yet another married woman, then everything comes tumbling down around him, transforming him into the surly bear we know, until he meets the one woman that "could break his family curse", yet the discovering of her true identity embitters him even more. It is only after learning the truth about her, and accepting his involvement in what happened to Maddy, that Ethan finally accepts the possibility of his feelings toward her and slowly starts to change.
But ten years of bitter anger and striving for revenge, deceit and lies cannot be buried, and instead of revealing the truth, hoping for forgiveness, he decides to lie and deceive further, almost bringing about his own downfall.
The only chink in my appreciation of Ethan was his "tender" feelings toward Maddy that (as even she noted), bordered on obsession. I know that he felt strongly for her, the woman who saw beyond his scar, and wanted to make some kind of amends for what she's been through, but this (almost) sudden reversal from cold and distant blackguard, to obsessed, besotted fool came off as a little unrealistic...Although it was a great excuse for his impromptu trip to cholera-infested Paris in the end.

Maddy quite paled in comparison with this larger-than-life Highlander. I liked her for her dogged determination and resilience, the environment in which she grew up shaped her into a strong woman who knew her worth and far from the replica of her mother (which was her worst fear). All of which made her rash decision toward the end so much more out of character. As her friend said, one should know when to run and when to stick around and wait for an explanation.
For the strong female character Ms. Cole created with Maddy, her flight from Ethan was odd...And stupid.

Instead of creating some suspenseful plot, Ms. Cole decided to stick on the simple dynamic between two completely opposite not-so-strangers, and explore the romance that evolved between them despite having to constantly struggle underneath deceit and lies, stubbornness, pride, and waning revenge.
The author made the right choice and this reader readily recommends this book to all lovers of historical romance, Scottish brogue (and superstition), nicely-timed humor, and a pinch of a little star-crossed love. A very satisfying read.


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