Looking at this plotline by itself, all signs point to me enjoying this book. The set up and the idea of the characters seem like my style. That’s why it’s so disappointing that it didn’t work for me at all. I debated between one and two hearts for this book, but finally concluded that I just didn’t care enough about it to get a good hate going on. So two hearts it is.
This was a relatively short book, filled with blank filler pages between chapters, but it seemed to take forever to read. My biggest problem with the book was the lack of motivation and logic. Sometimes the lack of logic can be ignored, as with humorous or campy books, but this wasn’t that sort of book. Without any real motivation for these characters and their behavior I was left feeling like I was listening to the author recite a string of actions. I was completely removed and couldn’t understand why I should care about these things.
For example, why were the hero and heroine attracted to each other? Why this heroine with this hero. There’s no reason, really, beyond the fact that the author says it’s so. The hero, Will, saves the heroine, Helen (we’re just going to call her that because you don’t learn her true identity until the very end), out of basic human decency. (We’ll go with that because it makes sense to me, not because it was actually stated as the reason.) He rescues her against her will, mind you—because she’s an idiot. After he takes her home he starts having odd lust-filled thoughts about her that broke the narrative. This is irritating for two reasons. One, it didn’t feel natural to his inner voice. Two, it was pretty skeezy. Just because a heroine and hero are in the vicinity of each other doesn’t mean they need to lust after each other. Time and place, people, time and place. And that time is not immediately after the heroine was drugged and sold to the highest bidder.
So, anyway, Helen steals from Will and escapes while he’s sleeping. For some reason he decides to follow her, even though he’s on his own important mission and doesn’t really care that she stole from him. So why did he follow her? No reason really other than the fact that he’s the hero and she’s the heroine and he needs to save her idiotic self from yet another dumb plan. He even says screw it later and lets her go her own way, but the heroine reverses her previous stance and decides that she needs to hang around him after all. It just wasn’t logical! There wasn’t any depth shown to explain why these characters would do these things. Even the most logical actions can seem organic to the character if the author is skillful enough, but here they felt too flat.
I’m not even bothering to go into the perplexing logic guiding Helen on this mad quest or Will’s mission that didn’t really explain why he was at that auction in the first place, but I do have to mention two things I found utterly ridiculous. One, Will decides to torture information out of Helen early in the story by tying her to his bed so she couldn’t escape and reading her porn. That’s right, that was his brilliant plan. Am I the only one that finds that ridiculous? Two, Will’s older brother, Xander is pissed that Will would bring his latest hook-up to their mother’s house. He says that it just proves his character. Now, I could understand this if said mother wasn’t a well known courtesan who had a bastard child with each of her noble lovers. I’m not really getting the whole stickler-for-propriety-sticks-and-stones vibe in that situation.
In addition to the previously stated problems, I also hated how long Helen’s deception went on. We, the reader, don’t even learn her name until the end. We learn nothing about her other than why she’s doing what she is. How can I, the reader, get to know the character well enough to care about her, let alone believe that someone fell in love with her, when I don’t even know anything about her? Plus, she called herself Helen of Troy because she admired her and kept speaking like she was Helen. I didn’t mind it at first, but hearing her use Helen and her relationship with Paris as a way to avoid having to talk about herself over and over and over and over got old. The fact that Will humored her in this just made it even worse.
The heroine has a talent for mimicry. She can hear a person speak one time for only a minute or two and can mimic them with dead accuracy. I rolled my eyes over this convenient talent, considering that a lot of things that occurred in the book wouldn’t have been possible without it. But maybe I’m being too harsh? I know of people who can recall whole conversations after hearing them once, but I’ve never heard of someone being able to instantly recall and recreate the accent of any person they hear.
As I’ve stated in the past, sex scenes rarely have a big impact on my enjoyment of a book. I rarely care enough to bring them up, but I have to talk about the sex scene here. It was painful to read. I had a problem with the attraction between them from the start (it didn’t feel engaging) but their sex scene felt like two strangers were together. Two unattracted strangers at that! There was no emotion there and the actions felt mechanical and tedious. The hero kept talking about how hot he was but it sure didn’t feel like it. In a case like this I think a fade to black would have been a better idea.
Despite the fact that I didn’t like this book, I wasn’t engaged enough to truly dislike it. I think if someone sees motivation and depth where I didn’t they might actually even like it. If you’re curious about the book I’d recommend browsing it for a couple chapters and seeing if you’re engaged. If you are, chances are you’ll enjoy it way more than I did.
He had his mother’s eyes and her capacity for extremes. He was the lion in the old tale with a thorn in its paw. Wounded, trapped in anger at the world’s evils, he would not find his lost brother. He could search all of London and find only injustice and pain.
She was the mouse, the partner, who could free him as he had freed her.