Saturday, November 5, 2011

On Perils: A Review of The Perils of Pleasure by Julie Ann Long

Perils of Pleasure is one of those rare books I picked up with no prior knowledge of the author, or even any inkling as to what it was about. That isn't something I do often. I like to research books ahead of time and make sure that it's at least being advertised as something that I would like. My experience with this book proves that this careful selection really does make a difference.

The book starts out with Colin Eversea about to hang for murder, rescued at the last possible second. His rescuer turns out to be a woman named Madeleine Greenway. Madeleine wants nothing more than to be rid of Colin, and be given a handsome reward that will allow her to start a new life. Colin needs Mad's help to return to his family in time to stop his brother from marrying the love of his life, Louisa. Naturally, Colin and Mad find themselves succumbing to mutual attraction instead.

Positive Comments:

I liked that Madeleine was such an independent and capable character. She's a mercenary, a clever planner, and a survivor of great tragedy.

There's a kind of mystery to be solved following Colin's rescue, regarding who was behind hiring Madeleine and why someone then tried to have her killed. All of this made for a fairly interesting plot with a few twists I didn't really see coming.

Critical Comments:

I liked Madeleine's character, but I so wish the author had taken more time to delve into her background. Every time I was given a tiny hint as to the things that had happened to her or what she did in her line of work, I thought a huge opportunity had been wasted. There's a great three dimensional character here being kept flat because of a boring story. Colin's character was totally cliched and uninteresting to me, but again he could have been more. Had this book been more character driven, instead of plot driven, it could have been awesome.

I just didn't connect to the romance between Madeleine and Colin. Part of it was that their characters were underdeveloped. Part of it was an inexplicable lack of chemistry. But I think my biggest hang-up with their relationship was the Colin/Louisa conflict. By the I was 80% through the book and Colin was still determined that he wanted to marry Louisa, I was a little very frustrated. Granted, by this point his feelings seem half-hearted. It just seems that, having spent so much time and shared so many intimacies with the book's heroine, he would start to have more open doubts about his marriage plans. Furthermore, since Louisa is used as such an important point of conflict, her character should have been developed more thoroughly. Her relationship with Colin should have been developed more thoroughly. Instead she's just a plot device used to keep the central couple at arms length of one another, and in the end that severely reduced the romance factor of this book.

If you want to read this as a historical suspense novel, or perhaps as a mystery, you might find it enjoyable. If you're looking for a character driven historical romance though, look elsewhere. This isn't a poorly written book, but it isn't at all to my liking. 2.5 stars.

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