I’ve read a number of historical romances recently, in which the heroine’s views on men and matrimony are shaped by a rape that takes place either before the story opens or at least before we’ve been properly introduced to all the main characters. The trope offers a number of pitfalls to both authors and readers, its success or failure depending on factors that include the villain’s motivations and subsequent actions, as well as the reactions of the other main characters not just to the crime but also to events that unfold later on in the novel.
Three years ago, Sophia was raped by a fortune hunter, who believed she would be forced to accept his proposal when her parents found out. Instead, they chased him from the house and did everything they could to save Sophia’s reputation – to no avail. Now Sophia has come to England to endure one season there before her father will accept that she is not destined to marry any man. Forced to stay with her formidable great aunt, Sophia nevertheless makes friends with other young ladies who have attracted the unwarranted attentions of gossipmongers, and soon afterwards meets Daniel, who is almost as averse to marriage as Sophia, although for different reasons.
Daniel believed himself to be in love once before, but then caught his fiancée in the arms of another man. Now he no longer trusts women, but still finds himself attracted to Sophia – as she is to him. The pair get together remarkably quickly given their respective pasts, and I feel Sophia in particular overcame her initial fears with far fewer difficulties than might be expected. However, this just paves the way for both the reappearance of Sophia’s old enemy and also for a series of misunderstandings that happen mainly through characters not sitting down and talking to each other.
The villain’s part in these later plot threads feel particularly farfetched, since his plans involve an entirely new set of plans to attack women, and it’s not entirely clear why he didn’t just entrap another rich bride rather than the complex machinations we find him in the middle of (and which seem to have involved considerable outlay to get going).
All in all, a book with far too many convoluted plotlines, not all of which I’ve mentioned here, that leave not nearly enough time for the central relationship to develop at a believable pace. Not a series I’ll be revisiting.
Only trust can save her…
Sailing to London, Sophia Braighton only hopes to escape certain ruin. But when she arrives, her Great Aunt Daphne has other plans for the American-born beauty. Determined to marry off her niece to a man of means, she propels Sophia into London society, not knowing that the young woman’s trust in men is shattered. In fact, Sophia never expects to ever feel anything for a man. Then again, she never expects to find herself in the company of the dashing earl of Marlton…
From the moment he sees Sophia, Daniel Fallon feels alive in a way he has not since his broken engagement. Though the vulnerable beauty shies from the passion burning bright between them, Daniel is determined to court her and make her his bride. And when he learns of the painful secret she harbors, he is equally determined to take revenge on the man responsible. But will the quest destroy him—and his future with his beloved?
Read an excerpt.