It was common gossip that there wasn’t a woman alive safe from the seductive skills of Alec Monro, Earl of Dalgliesh. On the other hand, there was no woman who didn’t secretly covet a dalliance with the audacious, disreputable, and dangerously exciting lover. After all, he was as handsome as a god, and his endowments were as legendary as his sexual stamina. And it didn’t hurt that he was immeasurably wealthy.
Zelda MacKenzie, a magnificent, flame-haired Scottish beauty, inspired whispers of her own: that she was rumored to be a witch–if only for the curious native jewels and unusual garb she’d brought home from her orchid-hunting expedition to Brazil. That’s not to say she wasn’t bewitching. On the contrary.
But Zelda made it quite clear to the earl that she had no interest in libertines. A challenge, he thought. How lovely. How maddening. How irresistible.
After reading this blurb, I was excited to dive into what seemed to be an intriguing story of seductive man and alluring woman. Alas, I was sorely disappointed. I had a lot of problems with the storyline, the first being infidelity. From the synopsis, you would never know that the hero was married and that deception set the tone for the entire story.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times – trust is the foundation for any relationship. Given that Alec has quite a history for seducing women, the reader is let to believe that Zelda will end up as one of his many conquests and that he will move on from her to the next, however that is not the case. As their relationship continues, the jealousy and insecurity that Alec and Zelda both exhibited proved irritating. Undeniably, the lack of trust was a prominent factor given Zelda was in an affair with a married man who initially could not promise her any permanency while having a known history of countless paramours. With this backdrop, I struggled to connect with or find any credibility to this couple.
Zelda –I have issues with an author portraying a heroine as intelligent, independent, and fearless only to have her cave and lose all morals and thought process when being seduced by a married man. It tends to tarnish any truth in how the character’s individual qualities are depicted to the reader. Further, I expected Zelda to be more headstrong and hard to get. That was not the case. She was immediately attracted to Alec and could not wait to bed him. Her early declaration of love, given in a light tone to Alec after their first sexual encounter, had me cringing because as it was written she believed she loved him in less than twenty four hours. I always detest the early, unauthentic aspirations of love within the first fifty pages of a story.
Alec – While Alec detested his wife (Violetta), he was well known for seeking “one night stands” in order to satisfy his libido. In spite of Alec’s womanizing nature, I found him to be a very selfless and compassionate character. Alec entered his marriage to protect his mother from a secret transgression committed by his father. Violetta’s threats to expose said secret is what kept his informal marriage in tact for four years. Given Alec had the charm and persuasion to practically entice any woman for sexual favors, and his wife blatantly exhibited her adulterous nature, there was no consideration of divorce, until Zelda. I wish that the author had taken another course with Alec’s predicament. Had he been a widow or simply a reformed rake, I believe the story would have taken on a more positive tone. I applauded Alec’s compassion and devotion to Chris (Violetta’s son). Although, Chris was not his son, Alec was his primary caretaker and the only “papa” Chris knew. Also, I commend Alec’s lack of bitterness given the circumstances of his informal marriage as well as the lengths to which he would go to be free of Violetta in order to love and be in a committed relationship with Zelda.
Though this is categorized as a “historical romance,” I would label it more of a “wallpaper historical” given the modern language and the bold erotic tone that was set in the 1800’s. While it was noticeable, it was not a terrible distraction. However the overuse of flowery, ostentatious prose did prove to be more of a distraction than an aide. At times, it was as if the author was jumping back and forth from a modern and historical setting.
THE (OVER) SMEXING:
The author established an instant chemistry between Alec and Zelda, however their seduction quickly turned to sexual obsession as if they were dogs in heat. The overuse of lust became overkill to the story. Alec’s stamina as well as the amount of orgasms he provided Zelda was unrealistic. If the author believed this was the way to create more of an erotic feel to the romance, it was not successful.
Overall, I believe the author had great potential given her humor, flow of writing, and ease of creating a magnetic chemistry between her characters. However it felt over done for my taste. Sadly, I kept thinking that had the plot been tweaked and the characters made, less obsessive, it would have made a world of difference to the storyline and made it a more enjoyable read.