Comment: I purchased this book a long time ago and it has been waiting for all this time basically because I wasn't too eager to read about a hero described as too manipulative and part of a so called "secret society" where people behaved anyway they wanted, with no care for rules nor respect for others. When I got the book I just assumed it wouldn't be so, that this would be just another historical with opposed attracted characters. Now that I finished, it wasn't as bad as I imagined but nowhere near my favorite historicals, no...
In this book we meet Elinor Harriman, a young woman whose family is in dire circumstances and everything gets even worse when her ill mother steals he last of the family's money and runs off to the mansion of Francis, Viscount Rohan, an exiled British man in Paris, who seems to control the secret society. Elinor decides to follow her mother, not only to stop her from acting in a way that the family couldn't recover from, but also to get the money back, something Elinor, her sister Lydia, their mother and two servants who are more family than helpers, desperately need.
However, when Elinor gets to the depravity mansion, she can't help but show her discontentment to the viscount, even if he has the money and the influence to seduce and destroy her...
This book didn't start that well for me. I was not fond of the situation in which the hero was living in.
I understand the writer has a tendency to create situations in her stories in which readers might not always be comfortable with, or at least there will be situations not easily appreciated by all. I thought this would change and the turnabout would be magnificent or there was a secret agenda we weren't aware of at first but no. This is indeed a story about a man who has had terrible circumstances forcing his exile and this is how he copes with it.
Since this is a romance, some of my hopes were obviously on how the relationship would develop. Again, I was not very eager to read about them together because in this case, the differences between them were more obvious on the moral side rather than the financial (although that too).
After finishing the story, I can understand why Francis was such a cynical person, why he felt he had to... wait, what am I saying? No, actually I don't understand. Why did he behave like that? He felt guilty, he missed his country, he had some other issues but why is that an excuse to have low morals, low beliefs? I'd rather him begin a martyr, in that case I'd appreciate his efforts to change a lot more.
The way things evolved, he wasn't sorry and I guess this is why he is sometimes labeled as "anti-hero" but his treatment of Elinor, despite never past the point of redemption annoyed me at times.
The romance took a long time to be obvious for the two of them. I don't mind it felt like a slow burn romance but the reasons why Francis put Elinor aside felt very silly and not those of an intelligent man. Just grow up, was what I often thought about how he chose to "scream" his forced freedom and his treatment of others.
As for Elinor, I did feel pity for her, for what she went through. I do like heroines down on her luck who somehow get back on their feet, proving if you are a good person, you can achieve something.I was really eager to see her triumph, to see how her life would change for the better eventually so I feel a little sad her character wasn't better explored.
It was nice Francis didn't rush her and that he actually avenged her when he knew about those who have hurt her in the past but...
Only in the last two or three pages do we have confirmation of their feelings. It felt like too little too late! I guess I can follow this need for drama, for a darker tone in the romance but the whole thing felt staged and easily put aside for better explanations and changes. I was not impressed.
There's a secondary romance that was obviously there just to counter balance the main one.
There's also a villain that plays a part too vague to even be worth existing but, oh well.
I won't go back to this author so soon, even though I have another book by her in the pile.