So why am I detailing all of this? Well, it seems that my whole world has revolved around Sasha and Robert ever since they walked into it with their refined beauty and strange English accents. Sasha could be considered responsible for the happiest times in my life — and Robert for the most miserable.
Lana Sweeney just wants to spend the summer with her best friend Sasha before she starts working on her PhD. One summer to enjoy London, spend much-needed time with her closest friend, waitress in a small restaurant and get away from her mum. Lana is a sweet Irish girl, shy, guarded, but wants to come out of her shell and learn to be more confidant. She’s into vintage clothes, is a lover of Greek mythology and is careful with her health since she suffers from type one diabetes. While Sasha has always been her best friend, Sasha’s brother Robert was the tormentor of her youth. So when she finds out he’s had a break up with his girlfriend and will be staying with Lana and Sasha until he finds another place to live, she’s not very happy. In fact the thought of it might give her stomach pains.
I repeat the mantra in my head. You’re a strong twenty-two-year-old woman, Lana Sweeney. You can do this. Robert Phillips is nothing. He has no worth.
Although their reunion starts out rough, neither one knows exactly how to act with the other, Robert seems to have changed. He’s not quite the bully he was in their youth. He’s definitely showing her more attention and he’s starting to say the things she’s always wanted to hear. But how do you trust the person whose always made your life miserable? How does a person go from treating someone taunting and cruel to soft and seemingly interested? Lana wants to like this new Robert. She’s just afraid this another one of his games, afraid to let herself get close and be harshly pushed away.
Lana and Robert begin a tentative friendship. Well, she’s a little more tentative than he is. From the beginning he makes her uncomfortable with his touching, staring and close attention. Robert almost seemed a bit like a stalker at first, appearing to be a little obsessed. He takes pictures of Lana, tells her she’s beautiful and pushes her to believe that he’s never going to hurt her again. A decision is made to start anew and forgive the past, their relationship soon turns passionate and Lana begins to come out of her shell a bit.
It’s almost impossible not to fall in love with Robert even when he’s acting like the devil incarnate, never mind when he’s being all tender and affectionate. A lesson for life: Beauty often causes people to overlook deeper flaws.
I struggled with Robert at first. Lana’s memories of his childhood bullying were hard to read sometimes, I felt for her, it made me sad to see her as a young girl being traumatized over and over by this boy who she wanted to hate, but couldn’t help but love at the same time. He has a strange relationship with his sister, and they have an odd group of friends. Everyone in this circle seems to have a love/hate relationship. Robert’s ex-girlfriend and her new flame are welcomed into parties and group functions, even with the deep animosity that exists between the them. To be honest this took me back a bit, I’m from a large family and have many siblings, Sasha’s welcoming them to stay against her brother’s wishes confused me. Some of these friends aren’t very nice to Lana, which took me aback again. Why even have these people around if they act the way they do towards people you profess to love? Then I thought…. Maybe this is all part of the lesson of The Nature of Cruelty. I hesitate to say “lesson”, but I really did have to think about how people interact with each other while reading. Sometimes it’s ugly, sometimes kind, and sometimes cruelty is the only way they know how to communicate with the world. It doesn’t make it right. Even in the way Sasha’s job as a media reporter is portrayed seems to be giving an example of how people treat each other. Strangers, friends, family, occasionally they hurt each other, the question is will they learn lessons from their behavior and will the people they’ve wronged be able to find forgiveness?
During the interludes between chapters Robert’s thoughts and feelings during his childhood and teenage years start to come out and we see a deeply confused young man who doesn’t know to profess his feelings. He loves Lana, has a deep-seated need to be near her and she soon becomes the center of his universe. While she is looking out for him in fear of his terrible words and actions, he’s looking for her with just the need to be around her. Even in his head he knows what he is doing is wrong, he wants her in a completely different way, but can’t seem to stop himself from being the hateful boy she expects every time they are together. This story could have turned out different for me without these glimpses into his head. Robert would have come across as much more of an ass and I don’t think I would have been able to forgive his prior actions. I may not understand his need to act out in the way he did, but I was able to see his true feelings vs. what his actions might led me to believe.
Once this couple came together they worked for me. I would have liked to have seen Lana make Robert struggle for forgiveness a little more, but I was very content with how they came to be with each other. They had a wonderful, believable chemistry. I loved watching them overcome the past, him asking for forgiveness and her granting it. His proving that he loved her and her finally, at the end, allowing herself to believe it. Even their HEA made me smile. L.H. Cosway has a way of writing unconventional romances that keep the reader engaged, creating out of the norm characters and making people think. Her earlier release this year Painted Faces will most definitely be on my best of list for 2013 and with this release she’s fast becoming one of my auto buy authors. Final Grade- B
“Yes,” he breathes. “You are quite possibly the only woman I will ever love. I’ve been with so many, so fucking many, Lana, and none of them ever even lived up to the feeling of just standing near you in a crowded school hallway. Seeing your blue eyes glisten under the sun when you didn’t know I was watching. Catching sight of your red hair as you walked across the field between our houses.” He runs a hand over my cheek.
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