Well, this was the first new release I was looking forward to for 2010 and it's not a propitious start.
I'll make it short and not-so-sweet. Duke has an arranged marriage from childhood. Blows it off forever, intending at some point to cancel out on it, then decides 'what the heck, I'll go for it'. By then the young woman doesn't want to marry him because ... sit down, it's gonna be a shockah ... she loves him so much (after seeing him two times in her life) and knows he doesn't love her back. Wow. You might want to get a glass of water after that.
Okay, I'm being facetious. It's fine as a start, but it's not enough to make a girl act like the selfish, childish, moron this heroine (who starts out just fine, BTW) turns into. She's not a harpy. That's the one plus. She doesn't turn into a spiteful shrew, but she does turn into a reckless airhead extraordinaire, trying to make the duke so angry that he'll cry off. Because she loves him so much and he doesn't love her. She is in no doubt of this, of course, because she overheard him saying that during the event of their second meeting when she was sixteen and he was in his late 20's. So ... it's pretty much settled and will never change, as anyone can see. *insert eyeroll here*
Yes, TAW has written a couple of my favorite books and I hold her ability in high esteem. And yes, I'm being scathing. Even bitchy. Because she has more talent than this and it ticks me off to see it wasted. Her biggest plus is the incredible chemistry she creates between her characters. But here, the heroine is acting like such a booby and the hero is so stoically busy with other things that they don't really spend any time together where they get to be playful or unrestrained. There's nothing for the reader to hang their expectations on until the last couple of chapters and those are padded with interminable sex scenes so we still aren't getting much banter or camaraderie. In all honesty, I thought the entire thing would have been much more satisfying if the hero had sent her back to her parents and they'd started the whole thing over. But I got the feeling I was supposed to expect him
to be paying a penance because he was approaching things from a typical POV of the times. And very amiably, too. Sorry, but he wasn't the villain of the piece. Just a dunderhead for not kicking Claire to the curb so she could grow up.
One thing happens that is foreshadowed in the earlier books in the series, but even that comes off as lackluster when it should have had a strong emotional impact.
Wow. I hate to be so harsh on a writer I truly like and who I'm rooting for. I've complained about her well worn templates that don't fit her strengths and this one does change up the formula a little, I'll grant that. But it still doesn't play to her unique talent and that's too bad.
Skip it. :(