Sunday, 20 May 2007

A Fragile Beauty by Lucy Gordon

What a pleasure to return to reading an issue-free series romance.

And this one has so many familiar features.

The heroine who switches fiances in the very first chapter. She marries a man who she does not love and has only met a week before the wedding. Of course he is very rich. And she spends the whole of the first half of the book thinking about her previous fiance. At one horrendous point in her wedding the heroine, Vicky, actually turns towards her original fiance rather than the man she is going to marry. Delicious. At least Vicky knows she's being an absolute tart and feels some guilt.

And what ties Vicky to her new husband? Why the pleasure he gives her in bed of course. How wonderful. Like I said. A proper deep series romance. Sublime in its simplicity.

Vicky is also cold-bloodedly clear-sighted. By page 88 she acknowledges she doesn't love her husband. Even though she's sleeping with him regularly. I almost feel sympathy for the hero. Except of course, he was the person who advocated a marriage with a woman he didn't know. And who was engaged to his younger brother. Like so many of this author's heroes, Maurizio is prone to over introspections. Not that we ever read any of the novel from his POV. One day one of these female series romance authors might actually get a hero to somehow justify forcing a woman he's just met into a marriage.

I liked Vicky. Not least because she enjoyed living in her husband's home and was not in a mad rush to return to working. (She didn't really have a career) Unusually for a series romance heroine, Vicky is actually a very kind person. Also she's not afraid to admit that she makes mistakes in her relationship with her husband.

Towards the end of the novel Vicky makes one big effort to behave like a typical series romance idiot. Fortunately the hero thwarts her in the nicest possible way! He's a bit strange for a romance hero. A very gentle macho man.

As I read towards the end of the novel I found myself getting nervous. What madness would the author invent to cause a Big Misunderstanding between the loving couple? Happily she resisted the temptation. All the issues were played out by the parallel couple in the novel. Which is a device that I wish other romance authors would also use. Since it leaves the main couple in peace to explore their feelings for one another.

This is a strange but lovely romance. Only spoilt by the setting; Italy. I would have preferred the hero to have been as English as the heroine. Maurizio is a stupid name for a hero.

Genre; contemporary romance. Movie rating; PG13; no relationship violence; totally consensual sex; unusually the heroine is also allowed a few nights without intercourse; one initially non love-based marriage.