Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Patricia Gaffney - To Have and To Hold

Suave, cynical, and too handsome for his own good, Sebastian Verlaine never expects to become a magistrate judging the petty crimes of his tenants and neighbors. Nor can the new Viscount D’Aubrey foresee that, when a fallen woman appears before him, he’ll find himself beguiled against all reason to alter her terrible fate....
Rachel Wade has served time in prison for her husband’s violent death, but she soon discovers that freedom has its own price. For no one will offer her a second chance but a jaded viscount who needs a housekeeper. Scorned by the townspeople of Wyckerley as D’Aubrey’s mistress, tempted beyond her will by the devilish lord, Rachel risks all she had to claim a life of her own...and a love that will last for all time.

Comment: One of the reads of last month. (I am behind on this, work is the cause). I picked it because I had read the previous one in the trilogy and I was also curious to see if it would be as amazing as many readers seemed to consider it, within the romance genre.

This is the story of Rachel Wade, she has been out of prison but can't find a job. Her life is close to finality she dreads but she has thought about the solution. Suddenly, she is rescued by the new viscount D’Aubrey, who is looking for a housekeeper. Could her life go back to any semblance of normalcy? Rachel's hopes are met with disillusionment when she realizes what the job entails.
Sebastien Verlaine is bored out of his mind, his life is a play of boredom and ennui and he sees in Rachel a new, different challenge. While he believes amusement will follow their progressing relationship, he isn't prepared to accept the differences in his own mind and spirit.

I have to say I don't like Sebastien. I don't care he changed, that he looked into his heart or that he reached the conclusion of what makes a decent human being. What he did, what he allowed to be done to Rachel out of boredom and personal games was too awful and stupid and horrifying to be redeemed with pretty words and gestures!
Probably many of you have read this book and know what I'm talking about, but in case you don't I mean what happened after Sebastien's friends paid him a visit. Another previous scene wasn't positive to remember either but I tell myself romances in those days weren't smiles from the start. But then..really, it's too harsh. 

I ended up giving this story a good grade because Rachel seemed happy int he end and I loved her character, I loved her personality and her attitudes even after everything that happened to her and her awful experiences. Rachel is the true soul of this story. I could attempt to put myself in her shoes and it was painful. I can only begin to imagine what it must have been like for countless women in those days, wrongly injusticed and forced to live that way. I'm sure the author researched female prisons in those times. Rachel's tale is so sad and I so wanted her to find happiness, to be wowed and surprised with life has to offer!

Then Sebastien comes along. I never liked him, not even when Rachel did. I get the author's intention of creating a really hateful person, whose aim in life is to amuse himself at the expense of others. I found good that he changed his mind about his position in life, about what he was doing and why and all the good changes he had until the end. But the things he did before were awful and it's too painful to think about. Two or three scenes made me cry and feel so much sorry for Rachel...

I see why many readers consider this good, Sebastien eventually changes and tries to show Rachel happiness is possible, but honestly I never thought his feelings for her were that strong...their relationship was filled with extremes and too many power plays to be accepted as romantic in the end. I don't consider the last scenes enough to put this in the successfully developed romance category. I wanted more emotion from Sebastian, a more thoughtful change of mind, of attitude. Their relationship feels unbalanced to me, and I think it could have been presented differently, namely the turnabout of things.

In the end, too many conflicting emotions. I have hopes to see this couple still happy in the following book because their love didn't seem strong enough or, should I say, detailed and described enough to convinced me it was bigger than the universe. Too many bad things put a shadow in this, I think.
Grade: 7/10

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