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Book Cover Gwen’s review of The Price of Desire by Jo Goodman
Historical romance released by Zebra 1 Sep 08

Some books are just so damn good, you truly want them to never end.  I put this book down and sighed.  It delivers on so many fronts, it’s difficult to summarize them all. 

To begin with – the title.  This is one of the rare cases of the title really saying it all.  Throughout the book, I was struck by how much it was about how much desire costs everyone.  Whether it’s their own desire or someone else’s; whether it’s the desire for money, power, love, or another person, it all has a price.  It’s a case of the title being scary good.

Next in my list of “damn that’s good” is the pacing of this book.  I was struck time and again by how much I was enjoying myself with nary a slow moment or pause in the story.  I got the impression that the author was very much in control of me and really had something to tell me.  I just had to let go and enjoy the ride, because Goodman was going to tell it to me whether I wanted it or not.  When a book is that good, I trust the author to just let go, enjoy the moment, and never look back.  It’s incredibly freeing to trust a book and an author that much with my time.

Next in the list are the characterizations.  Goodman’s hero and heroine (Griffin and Olivia) are historical romance character types that have been seen before – scarred and damaged hero who is a peer, heroine down on her luck having to bail out a brother who is a cad.  However, Goodman does one better.  She reveals to us solid, tangible, and realistic reasons for our protagonists to be the way they are.  I didn’t feel that she was simply saying “trust me” – she actually shows why the heroine has night terrors and why the hero is desperate to succeed.  Goodman also manages to make the cad brother a sympathetic character (difficult to do, as you’ll see).  These characterizations make the story very believable and rich.  (By the way, I loved Nat.)

The evolution of the characters in Price is probably my favorite element in this excellent book.  And make no mistake – they all evolve and we’re there to watch it all unfold.  My favorite being the heroine – how she survived and eventually thrived is beyond me.  I cried several times for her in this book.  The characters remain true to their personalities with never a false moment to be had.  However, their lives change through the course of the book and this forces them all to adapt.  Watching the adaptations is fascinating.

Last on my list of “why I loved this book” is the romance.  I loved this romance and so wanted it to succeed.  It also evolves and these two damaged people, Griffin and Olivia, come together, find the core of who each other is and respects it despite society, despite the past, despite the present circumstances.  The romance is just so satisfying on so many levels that it’s difficult to tell you of it all.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves romance and complex characterizations.  It’s a must read of fans of historical romance, and fans of the author.  I have read other books by Goodman, but none this good.  I’ll be glomming more of her backlist based on what I’ve read here – yes Sybil, including her westerns.

faye.jpgGrade: A


Olivia Cole is devastated to learn that her ne’er-do well brother has promised her to the operator of a London gaming hall as payment of his debts. Olivia accepts her fate-even if it means that her reputation will suffer from living among rogues and gamblers. But when she meets the sexy and mysterious Griffin Wright-Jones, the Viscount of Breckenridge, Olivia has more than her good name to worry about-for he rouses in her wanton thoughts she’s never dared entertain-until now…

Griffin wears the scars of his life on his striking face, Although he wants Olivia like no other woman before, he doesn’t force her to share his bed-a difficult task considering how beautiful she is. But with each passing night Griffin and Olivia’s resolve weakens until finally they take their greatest gamble on one night of reckless pleasure…

Read an excerpt here (click on the Google Preview icon on the right).