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05 July 2006

Only with Your Love (1992)

By Lisa Kleypas

From back cover: "Celia Vallerand fears for her life as she stares into the deep, arresting eyes of the dashing man who purchased her from the brigands who had abducted her. But it soon becomes clear that it's her virtue, not her life, that's in danger. The rugged, powerful renegade known only as 'Griffin' arouses desires in Celia as dangerous as they are forbidden. And thought she knows she must resist him, she fears she may be unable to do so. But the magnificent adventurer is a man trapped in a perilous deception. And the shocking secrets he guards could deny him the love f the fair captive lady who has enslaved his reckless heart."

That is an exact quote, people. Even in my blog I never use so many contractions, fragments, or sentences that begin with conjunctions. Ick!

Oh, but who can think of grammar with that silly, watered-down compromise cover featuring tasteful swans? Where is the bodice-ripping of the initial publication? And believe me, bodice-ripping abounds in this one, so the original cover would have been highly appropriate, if only for truth in advertising. After all, there were no swans ANYWHERE in the novel. Swan aficionados would have been sorely disappointed.

The big controversy in this novel has to do with the initial sex scene between the hero and heroine. Some call it rape. Some call it forced seduction. I call the whole thing ridiculous. Rape is a word, in artistic media, that I would apply to the infamous scene between Lawrence Fishburne and Angela Bassett in What's Love Got to Do with It?, the story of Tina Turner's tempestuous and violent relationship with her ex-husband, Ike Turner. Now that is a rape scene. This had... a few more kisses. And two female orgasms.

That said, if the genre had been different or if the ultimate happily-ever-after (HEA) had been in jeopardy, I would have read the scene as being much more violent. As it was, because this is a tried-and-true romance novel, I registered the actions and intentions of the hero as "troubled," "brooding," "haunted," and ultimately, "in need of the redemptive powers of love." He would make good to his woman - rescues, love, marriage, kids, more orgasms - any wrong committed in their initial sexual encounter. These mitigating factors lessened any uncomfortable emotional impact that the scene might otherwise have imparted to me. A rape victim, however, might have read it very differently.

As for the story, this was a vastly more readable book than the previous Kleypas I tried, Stranger in My Arms. The characters were more cohesive, the plot was more engaging, and the BIG POINT was more thrilling - with a nasty-ass badguy. I would have liked more perspective from the secondary characters, particularly Philippe and Briony, but the author keeps all internal dialogue focused exclusively on Celia and Justin, the main love interests. However, the book did have inconvenient TSTL moment. Sigh. For an otherwise enjoyable book, that left a bad taste in my mouth!

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