Friday, 16 December 2011
365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #244
The End of Her Innocence - Sara Craven
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2011
From the back cover:
"A dangerous yet irresistible temptation…
Before her heart became the latest one discarded in wild abandon by the even wilder Darius Maynard, housekeeper Chloe Benson fled her beloved village. Returning home years later, she finds the notorious rogue’s flashing green eyes and mocking comments still infuriate... and excite her!
Suddenly upgraded from spare to heir, Darius is enduring an onslaught of personal torment. However, he’s been the black sheep of the Maynard family for as long as the gossipmongers can remember. And there are some old habits – indulging in beautiful women for example – that Darius has no intention of breaking..."
I have been so looking forward to reading this latest offering from Sara Craven!
The heroine Chloe has been time working away and is now ready to go back home and marry her long term boyfriend. However when she gets back home, nothing seems to go as planned; her boyfriend is distant and preoccupied, her Aunt and Uncle are planning to move away, and the hero Darius is back, which makes Chloe feel awkward. Darius was once the village bad boy, whom left in disgrace seven years ago after apparently being found in bed with his brother's wife. That had also been the same night that he almost seduced Chloe and then rejected her, causing her hurt and humiliation that she has never quite forgotten. When Chloe and Darius meet again Chloe tries to ignore him lest he see her humiliation, especially from his sometimes salacious comments. But she can't forget the attraction she felt towards him, that has never really gone away. Despite her attempts to avoid him Darius manages to be around a lot, which unnerves her especially as her so-called boyfriend has told her they need to space and seems to be hiding something. Darius makes it clear that he still desires her, and Chloe can't deny her feelings towards him, but knows that she is likely to end up heartbroken.
This is a little different from the more recent Sara Craven books (there's no 'forced seduction' here!), and I have to say I really enjoyed it! I like the way the author gradually revealed the backstory and hidden truths, it created some delicious tension and a touch of mystery, and the whole thing is done like a true master. I really responded to the simplicity of both the love-story and the setting. So many Modern/Presents these days are set in such glamorous, international, and glitzy worlds, which don't get me wrong I love, but it was very refreshing to read this book set in a small rural English village. And it still managed to include all elements you would want (Alpha-hero, aspiration, etc).
The heroine really does go on a journey throughout this book, which I loved reading; she started off naive yet thinking she knew everything, and gradually grew up. This gives the book a wonderful flow. The interaction between the hero and heroine is fantastic, packed full of chemistry.
I have two complaints though! First, there is no POV from the hero, and I really wanted it, it would have added a bit more depth. Secondly, the writing is a little stiff and old fashioned, and if I read the phrase "on the contrary" one more time I may have screamed!
Nevertheless, I really liked this book.