“I expect you to show my friend just how grateful you are. Your willingness is everything.”
With those harsh words, the hated Sasanach earl decided Bríghid’s fate. Her body and her virginity were to be offered up to a stranger in exchange for her brother’s life. Possessing nothing but her innocence and her fierce Irish pride, she had no choice but to comply.
But the handsome man she faced in the darkened bedchamber was not at all the monster she expected. His green eyes seemed to see inside her. His tender touch calmed her fears while he swore he would protect her by only pretending to claim her. And as the long hours of the night passed by, as her senses ignited at the heat of their naked flesh, she made a startling discovery: Sometimes the line between hate and love can be dangerously thin.
I’m not sure I’ve ever read such a good book with such trashy packaging. I mean… Carnal Gift??!! That’s just bloody awful! As is the blurb that sets you up for a Fabio rape fantasy when the book is actually an immaculately-researched, lengthy piece of romantic historical fiction.
You can read this book without reading the one before it, but this is an excellent and original series and you should do yourself a favour and read them all. As much as I loved the first book, I think I might have enjoyed this one more.
Pamela Clare doesn’t shy away from the realities of the era (1750s). It gives her books a much more historical fiction than romance mood, and makes it feel a bit like watching a well-done historical movie with all the ugliness included. This is a good thing, and the author’s depiction of the era shows pretty strongly what is missing from the historical romance genre these days. Not everything has to be fluffy and cute!
The version I read is the longer version, the one the author couldn’t use when she was with her original publisher. It’s quite a long book, but I wasn’t bored. There’s so much danger and action and adventure to go with the romance.
I like that not even the heroes and heroines of the series are spared from the realities of life back then. I appreciated that hero and heroine of the last book haven’t just settled into a perfect little existence with one or two perfect children (a hint: lots of sex is going to lead to a very different, more historically accurate sort of happy ending!).
I loved that our heroine here was a strong character – very strong – but she wasn’t anachronistic. She wasn’t one of those silly “kick arse heroines” who have flooded the genre recently, going on about dreams and life plans no woman of the time would have been capable of dreaming up.
The plot was smart. There were so many threads and so many characters across Ireland and England. Lots of things happening as the Irish characters tried to stay hidden and the English showed themselves to have a variety of loyalties and beliefs. All those threads pulled together in the end. I didn’t think anybody was clichéd or one-dimensional – yes, there were bad English characters, but it wasn’t all black and white.
A couple of things I wasn’t so happy about:
Firstly, the ending, though well-written and emotional, tied up everything neatly and happily. Yes, the characters deserved it, but it was maybe a bit too perfect.
My second issue is with the language. These characters should never be saying gotten. But gotten appears to be the author’s favourite word! They even say it ten times too much for American characters!
The biggest error was having the heroine use the expression spend a penny to mean relieving herself. Spend a penny is a saying that wasn’t recorded until the middle of the twentieth century, and it refers to using a penny in a coin-operated public toilet – conveniences that weren’t even in London until a hundred years after this book is set! And these characters were peasants in rural Ireland who had never even seen their reflection in a mirror! It was as out of place as it would be to have Elizabeth Bennet travelling around England in a sports car!
However, this is one of the best historical romances I’ve read, and for so many reasons. It is adventurous in time and location. It’s dramatic, and has lots of action. It has plenty of emotion with two great main characters and lots of interesting secondary characters. It presents the past as it was.
I don’t know why I waited a decade to read these books.