The premise was delicious: the lady is rather horrified to discover that she's got the feelz for the land steward, who in turn realizes that his employer's flighty aristo ways are just an affectation. Then the villain turned absurd, and the hero never let the lady speak her mind or try to solve conflict - he would just shove his tongue in her mouth while pulling up her skirts. That oughta shut 'er up!
It all stayed very shallow, and Harry turned into a pushy alpha. I missed the swoonworthy beta from the opening chapters.
Elizabeth Hoyt and Lisa Kleypas share the same space on my shelves. They are very readable, but I am always aggravated with the inevitable villain subplot, which is generally used to push the MC from lust to love. LK wins the cage match easily - she's wittier with dialogue, and has Leo Hathaway and Christopher Phelan in her corner.
When I worked in publishing many moons ago, I plucked this paperback out of the freebie bin. It was my first romance, beyond reading "Princess Daisy" with my middle school besties. I told my pretentious roommates that it was just for the snark factor, but girl please, I was a goner from the first page.
There's very little this book doesn't have, beyond maybe some restraint. You've got suspense, a plucky heroine surviving on the run, time travel, the strongest, hottest Highlander in all of Christendom, and two nearly star-crossed lovers beating the odds and getting their HEA after all. Brilliant.
Yes, some of it is truly clunky: the villain is over-the-top pervy, and he gets his in a weirdly lewd way. The hero does in fact speak in that annoying spelled out broooooogue. And the heroine skirts dangerously close to Mary Sue territory. Poor Grace is just not MEANT to be in modern times - she loves simple bland foods! (?) She is also one of those heroines initially deemed unpretty for very gorgeous reasons. Why, her eyes are just too large and grey! Her mouth too wide and full! Her hair is just too long and thick and silky! Given when it was written, she is Christy Turlington disguised as a computer nerd.
BUT. But. It's SO FUN! I mean, her flight from the villains, is uber tense and thrilling. Her frantic research, conducted on the run, is kind of awesomely interesting - made even cuter by the 1990s technology of modems, etc. And she has fevered sex dreams about Black Niall, who is described like our favorite blockbuster hero:
Niall is a 1990s alpha, my favorite kind. He is calmly, dangerously in charge, and treats Grace with intelligence and respect, even as he tells her in no uncertain terms that she will soon be in his big ole fur-lined bed. I miss those heroes - alphas these days are misogynist knuckledragging morons. In fact, if this was written today, the pervy villain would actually be the hero - he's handsome, rich, and a sociopath. Swoon!
Many romance readers complain that Grace and Niall don't get together 'til way late in the book, and it's true. I probably would have felt the same way if I hadn't been a romance virgin. I picked it up thinking it was a paranormal thriller.
Even when they are finally face-to-face, the widow doth protest a bit much despite her near constant orgasms in her fated lover's presence. But the big scene on the stairs, oh, wow. Smoking. Hot. My jaw dropped and I probably turned scarlet reading it on the subway. I've read a lot more explicit scenes since then, but I still appreciate the unadorned action.
I get why some people don't like this one, but it will always be one of my favorites. I read it every year or two, and still love it. It's just unapologetically bananas.
Softly sweet and romantic - featuring a couple you can really root for! Sometimes, you just KNOW after a week of rough unprotected sex that you have found your true love...or your barely legal old lady whore bitch (what? I am just being AUTHENTIC.) who tucks her cigarette pack in the waistband of her sweatpants...swooon.
I never thought it would happen, but I found the book that makes me think fondly of Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley.
So the fairy tale prince for a domestic abuse survivor is a pushy alpha male ex football player with a possessive streak, a giant temper, and a pathological need to get his way? Perfect.