Sunday, September 26, 2010
TOP BEACH READ: My Reckless Surrender By Anna Campbell
*Sorry I am late with this, computer problems, RL, etc. anyway, this was the book that had me riveted on the beach this summer, and caused me to get a sunburn because I couldn't put it down!*
Avon May 2010
384 pages by Anna Campbell
BLURB ON BACK OF BOOK
Headlong into sin . . .
A well-practiced rake, weary of easy conquests and empty pleasures, Tarquin Vale, Earl of Ashcroft, knows women—and his every instinct warns him to beware of this one. Diana Carrick's brazen overtures have thrown the haunted, sinfully handsome lord completely off his guard. Why, the exquisite temptress stated outright that she wishes to be his lover. But it is neither Diana's boldness nor her beauty that intrigues him so—it is the innocence he senses behind her worldly mask.
Intent upon the seduction that will finally free her, Diana has set her sights on the notorious Ashcroft—never dreaming that there is much more to the enigmatic rogue than sin and deviltry. His kiss is bewitching, his caress intoxicating—and even the dangerous secret Diana must protect cannot shield her from Ashcroft's dark allure.
Unwittingly yet most willingly, they are playing with fire. Now the fuse has been lit and there is no escape . . . except surrender.
I will disclose right off the top that I am an unabashed Anna Campbell fan-girl. And of all the books I read this summer, and there was quite a few good ones, one that came a close second was 'Three Nights With A Scoundrel" by Tessa Dare, Julian Bellamy, the hero, is amazing. But, winning by a finely chiseled nose in my book is Anna's Tarquin Vale.
Anna has a lush style in her writing, setting such a intimate tone. Her focus stays on her hero and heroine in all her books (I have read and own all but the first one, Claiming the Courtesan) an unflinching, penetrating look that is almost too intimate, but it can't help but keep you enmeshed page after page.
In her past books, Anna's heroes were deeply damaged/tortured, either by war, madness, outer scars, and the background cloaked with regency noir, not so much this story.
It was a pleasant change.
First off, Diana Carrick is not likable. Sorry, but she is a mercenary piece of baggage that has Tarquin in her net from the first, and when we find out the real reason she sought out Tarquin and pushed for a dalliance, it is a jaw dropper. But Anna manages as the story progresses, to make you feel so bloody sorry for this woman, by the end of the book you are cheering for her. How did she do that? With a storytelling gift and a way with words I envy and admire.
Yes, I saw a few reviews that bashed Anna for Diana's calculating ways, but I looked deeper. Diana in her own way, is more damaged and tortured than some of Anna's heroes, Tarquin included. I think it is a fear borne out of grief (for her first husband) and a desire to protect and shelter the two people who mean the most to her, her father and her friend Laura. She is truly messed up. And she was being manipulated by the villain of the piece, the scurrilous old spider Edgar Fanshawe, Marquess of Burnley, who reminded me of the evil Mr. Potter in 'It's a Wonderful Life'. Really, down deep, Diana is an innocent, and a little naive. And maybe a touch stupid. I felt pity for her. Well done Anna, for Diana really is not likable through most of the book.
And it is this underlying innocence that enraptures Tarquin. Where do I start with this hero? He had me at 'hello'. Nothing appeals to me more than a cool, detached rake who really underneath is a lonely, abandoned little boy who wants and needs love desperately. I just read 'The Kiss" By Sophia Nash (a book I won long ago, but only just got to read) and the hero Quinn was appealing for the same reasons.
But I digress, Diana's first thought when she sees Tarquin? Lucifer, the most beautiful. Prince of Angels. Bearer of Light.
Tarquin is all this and more.
Yes, the physical aspect of their relationship is hot, heavy and covered in intimate detail, so intimate, I felt I was in the carriage with them. But it is cast in a deeply sensual way, there are lots of sex scenes, that didn't bother me as it did some others. But what Anna manages is to have these hot, quick ruttings turn into so much more, and it is done mostly through the POV of Tarquin. Turns out this dissolute, cold rake is down deep, a tender and caring man who feels deeply. He has been so devoid of love his whole life, he doesn't even recognize it when he feels it. But I love he doesn't give up. He is so determined, and so brave and honest, it took my breath away. I think Tarquin fell in love with Diana at first sight, how else could this intelligent man be so easily duped?
Tarquin's deep emotions make for some heart wrenching moments as we witness his pain and heartbreak when all is revealed. God, my heart bled for this poor man. But Anna also managed to show Diana's realization of what she had done, and her deep guilt and remorse.
I won't give away any of the plot, there is a showdown with the villain and a shocking revelation that makes Diana's deceit even more hard to take.
Believe me when I say Tarquin is the reason to read this book. I thought I loved Julian Southwood from Anna's 'Tempt the Devil", but I am all about Tarquin now. An amazing, multi layered, fascinating, sexy hero, who down deep, is just a lonely little boy who needs a hug. Plus, the fact he is dark, swarthy, handsome and a Greek God is just the icing on the cake.
Anna is unafraid to show us all the flaws and faults her characters possess, and even Tarquin is not perfect here. But it is the angst filled heart breaking journey she takes us on, that these two damaged and at times, yes, selfish people, can find true love. Now THIS is romance.
4 out of 4 stars for the book
KOVER KUDOS: Love the lush colors and the dress, the stepback shows Paul Marron (Yes!) in a sexy clinch, however, Paul's brown hair does not match the physical description of Tarquin's black hair and swarthy looks. A minor point.
3 and 1/4 stars for the cover