I know it is hard to like this book because of the unusual plots. It rubs people the wrong way and I can well imagine why it pushes people's boundaries just a tad too much. My problem with the book however, was not with the rape or the infidelity. I think it is a book with good writing but poor plot development and characterization.
As I read on I actually appreciate Jo Beverley's writing. But writing about such explosive plots, the book is shockingly bland. I have read reviewers who talk about this book being to angsty. I wonder, where is the angst? Yes the rape and infidelity are really tough subjects. But they are simply underexplored. It seems an awful waste to incorporate such plots to piss off 90% of the readers and to miss out on capitalizing such heavy-weight plots.
I think her chracterization is off too. This is true for all 3 major charcters, the hero, the heroine and the rapist. As for the "rogues" well, they could all be the same guy. You hardly have a face for them. I think the characters behave strangely in this book. The person who should be angry is not angry, the one who should be disgusting is actually not so disguting, the person who should not get married so easily married someone he hardly knew in a blink of an eye just because his brother said so.
I really did not have any problems with the plots. They are the reason I read the book. I wanted to see how a writer would approach such taboos in a romance novel. But the book is a disappointment in plot development characterization. The intriguing plots are just wasted. So is Beverley's writing.
A few things that I kept wondering about reading this book:
1. The "violent" part is not explicit. The angst is very much downplayed.
2. I keep feeling a bit disconnected. Considering the magnitude of the events, the characters are extremely cool-headed about the entire business. The rapist is not exactly a villain. The hero is taking this "my brother asked me to marry the woman he raped" thingy in strides (should we pat him on the shoulders?). The heroine very quickly made peace with the fact that she had to marry her "rapist" who is actually the rapist's brother. And nobody was screaming or flipping off. The rapist offered to help and saved the heroine from killing herself. The hero tied himself to a woman who has been raped by his brother. And the heroine actually began to like the hero. And all of this happened without anyone even batting an eye. I mean, how is that humanly possible? Then the heroine had problems with her husband having a "mistress"? Wait, she decided to marry in such a circumstance and had problems with extra-marital relationships? Woman, priorities!
3. I am not really appalled by the events, which in itself, is appalling.
4. I like the hero better than the heroine. I know people have problems with his "infidelity" but honestly it was not as if he was in love with heroine. Maybe I am of loose morals, I don't know. Shxt happens. Sometimes it is about how you overcome such things as a couple that makes the love story. It cannot always be picture-perfect.
5. Some reasoning really failed to convince me. Eleanor becoming pregnant after the rape for example, how could they know that she was pregnant after scarely a month? It wasn't as if there was a Durane Reade down the block. And Nicholas sleeping with her the first time because then "there may be a chance that the baby is his". I mean, the rape happened a few weeks ago before the wedding night. It really does not take a genius to figure out whose baby it is. or am I being to scientific here?