Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar! And sometimes a book I didn't like when it was first published turns out to be a book I still don't like.
I thought maybe if I read An Arranged Marriage again, I'd change my mind because sometimes things mellow as you get older and sometimes your taste changes... But not here!
I remember reading this book the first time and being very upset when I finished. In fact I, sent off one of those lunatic fan letters ranting about how much I despised the hero and how much I thought the heroine was a doormat. I did receive a reply from Ms. Beverley. She tried to be gracious, but she did defend her hero, or as I call him "the man who prostituted himself for his country, but hated it." Puleese.
Let me give you a rough outline of this book. There is Eleanor, the doormat. Eleanor's evil brother drugs her, and throws her on the bed. Christopher, the maybe gay guy, is also drugged and made fun of by the other e-v-i-l guys at the e-v-i-l wing-ding. These wretched men call Christopher a pansy (sort of). This enrages Christopher - he must prove he isn't, and in his drugged induced rage, rapes Eleanor. Curtain. End scene. Next day Christopher rescues Eleanor from jumping into the river and then you know what he does? He writes to his twin brother Nicholas to come and marry Eleanor. Because the rapist brother cannot marry women. Does Nicholas think this request is odd? Stupid? Silly? Makes no sense? Nah, he comes back and marries her. And just to make sure there is no question about paternity (in case there need be) he has sex with doormat Eleanor. What a lovely family Eleanor has married into. But, then Eleanor is an understanding woman... she's so understanding that she is even able to be civil to the man who raped her.
But wait! It gets better. So, then we have Nicholas sacrificing himself in the bed of another woman for his country... never home... and there's Eleanor falling in love with him! Why? And, she eventually figures it out and accepts it... makes excuses for it. So, why does she love this guy? Well, poor Nicholas, he is in pain because he's forced to have sex with this other woman, so he must distance himself from Eleanor. Which only adds to the pain for doormat Eleanor. I cannot go on. This book did not do anything for me except depress me and make me mad. I know that this was Ms. Beverley's first book (an idea in 1976, published in 1991) and maybe she hadn't found her voice, but I didn't like Nicholas when I first read this book and I find that my feelings for him haven't changed. If I had a list of "Horrible Heroes," he would be on it.
So, I decided to read the next one in the series, An Unwilling Bride. Maybe I will find some understanding there.
By the way I did just created a Horrible Heroes list...check it out: http://sidneykay.blogspot.com/2007/12/horrible-heros.html
Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Warm