Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Review: Catherine Coulter’s DEVIL’S EMBRACE – Simply Enthralling...I could not put it down!

This was Coulter’s first historical romance, published in 1985, and it is a superbly written, heart stopping, action-filled story that I could not put down. Literally. I do not recommend you begin it in the evening as I did. That night I did not sleep until nearly dawn. Forget the low reviews on Amazon, and set aside your 21st century sensibilities, and go with what may be one of the most enthralling romances I’ve read in a long time. Certainly it’s a classic that affected the genre of historical romance—and well worth the read just for that! But it will be seen as strong against anything written today, I promise.

Set in the late 18th century (I estimate 1775-76), it tells the story of highborn 18-year-old Cassie Brougham, who on the day before her marriage to a Viscount she has loved for years, is abducted by 34-year-old Anthony Wells, the Earl of Clare, who has been watching her since she was a child, all the while believing she is his perfect mate. He intended to court her at her first season, but then learns of the hastily planned marriage to the Viscount. Though Anthony’s intention in seizing Cassie is marriage, that doesn’t stop him from rape to claim her, nor imprisonment, first on his yacht and then in his Italian villa, as he tries to persuade her to marry him. He is not cruel (except at the beginning...); he is kind and indulgent. Cassie reasonably hates him for what he has done to her life (and Coulter does that very, very well), but she succumbs to the passion Anthony calls forth each time he makes love to her. You can feel the terrible conflict within this strong-willed, courageous girl as she feels she has no choices. Even her attempt to escape comes to naught. (There’s a bit of the Stockholm syndrome working here, I do believe.)

The plot is intricate and intriguing with lots of action and lots of mystery. The characters are richly drawn, including the hero who has a noble side notwithstanding his selfish and brutal act of taking another man’s bride. But the heroine is the one who really garnered my sympathy. She faces mad dogs and Englishmen and manages to overcome every challenge to gain the respect of all. I highly recommend it.

The second book is THE DEVIL’S DAUGHTER which is now on my "to read" shelf.

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