This story is well written and a skill with words dragged me from chapter to chapter. But often I thought to myself, “I hate this novel…it is not a romance…more a ‘make-do’ kind of thing between the main couple.” A kind of cold-hearted courtship despite the kisses.
The fundamental problem is the characters of the main couple and their relationship with one another. When the heroine, Susannah, had money she came across as a selfish stuck-up bitch, who believed herself in love with the nobleman she was engaged to. Early on in the story, she becomes penniless…and is promptly jilted by her fiancé. Who then turns up later in the story to offer her a place as his mistress. Although Susannah rejects his insulting offer, she seems happy enough to fulfil the same role for the hero. In fact the whole novel is too full of kept mistresses who come to sad or sordid ends. As much through desperation as anything.
About two-thirds of the way through the book the hero, Kit, himself admits that a carnal relationship with Susannah would be nothing more than a ‘delightful interlude.’ Is that because he knows that not only is she destitute, but she’s also illegitimate. Obviously in the end he admits he loves her and marries her…but that’s too late to make a good romance. Also. When Kit isn’t hankering after his first love Caro, he’s fixated on returning to his liaison with the married countess.
Susannah meanwhile just drifts into ‘loving’ the nearest nobleman. And as the writer says. The way Susannah still clings to wearing her clothes in the style she used to when she was wealthy is frankly, a bit sad. Who was washing all her lovely dresses?
I kept reading for a while because I was somewhat interested as to how Morley would be revealed to be the traitor he was. Because there’s an issue in politics today about elected officials being happy to give state secrets to groups dedicated to destroying the freedoms of the western way of life.
Actually I stopped reading when the main couple go at it for the first time. The heroine was too desperate to find someone with money and the guy should have had a higher moral code than to take advantage of a vulnerable young woman who more than anything seemed on the verge of depression.
But this is written by a successful author so I’m probably in a minority.