June 15, 2016
"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know." - Groucho Marx
This story needs a punch line. How much suffering, trials and tribulations are enough? How
much must one endure to qualify as a heroine? A long long time ago when movies began - around the 1913-14-15 - there were cliffhanging serial movies. A number of them involved heroines being tied to railroad tracks, hanging from cliffs, jumping from buildings, being lost in balloon - all of them being menaced by a villain or two. The Adventures of Kathlyn, The Hazards of Helen, What Happened to Mary, The Perils of Pauline. One of the things common to these serials, other than all of the stuff they had to go through, was that these women for the most part saved themselves. I think that is something that we in the 21st century have forgotten. We have the misconception that heroines in the early 20th were weak - that they needed a hero to save them. Well, in The Price of Desire there isn't any railroad track, no tall building, but gee willikers there is a long-suffering, stoic, angst-filled heroine. In fact she just may be one of the biggest Moaning Myrtles I've come across in a book in a lonnng time. She had more baggage dumped on her than even an Antonov An-225 Mriya could hold. Upon completion of this book I really needed a good laugh or even a bad laugh. It was Groucho Marx time.
There may be spoilers ahead. Here's the plot line: Olivia's pinhead brother Alistair owes a huge gambling debt to Griffin Wright-Jones, Viscount Breckenridge. Griffin is one of those aristocratic guys who owns a gambling hell. That happens a lot in Romanceland. Anyway, our worthless brother leaves his family heirloom emerald ring as a marker - then the marker disappears. Then he disappears, leaving behind a note bestowing Olivia as the marker. Enter our marker, aka Olivia.
Olivia is one cool customer. She goes to the gaming hell without too much hesitation. As far as Olivia is concerned the gaming hell offers more security than she had before. And, she has food. Thus begins the long long long journey toward a HEA for Olivia and Griffin. Let me tell you, it is quite an angst-filled trip we, the readers, are led down. Both Griffin and Olivia have secrets and problems. But Olivia's are overwhelming. They are overwhelming to Olivia and they were overwhelming to me. I would suggest that we didn't really need Griffin's past problems in this story because it was Olivia's past which the story revolved around.
Doom and gloom. I don't recall ever having read such a wounded creature as Ms. Goodman's Olivia. (And, I've read my share of Mary Balogh’s books.) While the story is filled with some remarkable writing and overall it is a very strong book, there were just too many problems dumped on Olivia. We no sooner learn one secret/problem than another is revealed. I found myself groaning, "Oh no, not another one." Just how much can one person suffer before it's tooo much? In my opinion there only needed to be one horrible occurrence in Olivia's past and that was the abuse she suffered at the hands of her father. This trauma was painted very realistically; it was so very dramatic and Olivia's pain was very vivid. I didn't need additional damage done to her at the hands of others to make me have compassion for her. It was already there. The extra stuff which Ms. Goodman put Olivia through was overkill. For me all the extra ordeals weakened the story.
Poor forgotten Griffin. Griffin was a great hero - his story was just buried beneath Olivia's wreckage. He's everything one could want in a hero - understanding, strong, kind, decent, and of course, hot. Even though he's such a strong character, it's almost as if he plays second fiddle in the story. I wish there had been more focus on him; he was really quite adorable. He was a total alpha male character, however he just didn't know what to do with Olivia. He was all the time putting his foot in his mouth when he tried to communicate with her. He was an imperfect hero, which in my opinion made him perfect.
Weasels. There are lots and lots of odious villains in this story. Realistically I know that these guys would never get what they deserved but I really wanted them too. I thought Olivia forgave her blockhead brother waaayy tooooo fast but the real kicker was her father. Yes, her father got away with child molestation and the times being what they were I'm not sure anything else would have happened to him. HOWEVER, either she or Griffin should have stood up to this guy, warned others, done something - locked him away. I wasn't happy with the father solution.
Overall this is a strong character driven book with a lot of extra baggage which isn't needed. Besides all of the events that happened to our tortured heroine, there was a skanky mistress, a competing gambling hell villain, a philandering wife and a secret son. There were tooo many excess stories. Olivia's background story was all that was needed to make this a great story. It was all I needed. This had all the makings of a DIK if only a few things had been edited out. Some great writing and great characters - if only a little more focused. I do recommend this book although it comes with a caveat - you may need a Margarita and a Marx brother's movie after you’re done. You've been warned.
Time/Place: Regency England