Reckless-Anne Stuart

In Book Reviews, romance novels on September 27, 2010 at 12:10 am

A Ten Hand High Girl And A Rake

Reckless by Anne Stuart is the story of Charlotte Spenser, an unattractive 6′ woman with red hair and freckles who at thirty years old in early 1800s Britain is already a spinster, and Adrian Rohan, an incredibly attractive man who revels in debauchery with the most beautiful women in London and Paris.  Charlotte has had a crush on Rohan for some time and she finds herself face to face with him at the Heavenly Host grounds in Sussex, a place where anything and everything goes sexually and no place for a virgin like her.

Rohan sees Charlotte as a plaything, something he can amuse himself with for a couple days at Heavenly Host and then throw away.  He is somewhat intrigued by her virginity, but his experience with virgins in the past has left him uninterested overall in their “crying and protestations of love” after he deflowers them.  However, his time with Charlotte doesn’t go quite like he thinks it will and he finds himself unable to forget her as easily as he thought he could.

Reckless has some fine parts to it.  Rohan is actually quite an interesting character, all the more so because he’s devilish.  He is definitely a bad boy.  The parts of the story that include him are sexy, but the question must be asked:  What kind of man who is described as “charming, handsome, and devastatingly skilled in the arts of love” would want a female described like this:  “at a good six feet, she towered over most men, she had awful ginger hair and freckles, an overabundance of bosom, and need to wear glasses,” in addition to being a woman who “glowered” all the time? I understand Stuart attempted to show that they were opposites.  The problem is that it is highly unlikely that such a man like Rohan would ever even give a passing glance to Charlotte, let alone be interested in taking away her very old virginity (at 30 in the early 1800s, she was definitely an old maid). Stuart makes her so unattractive that she sounds like a horse (hence the ten hands reference).

That Stuart has Charlotte fall madly in love with Rohan but outwardly be confident and strong enough to act like she doesn’t care is another fine part to the story.  Charlotte doesn’t cry and protest that she’s in love with him after having sex with him.  She acts like it was meaningless, and each time she sees him afterward, she either acts disgusted to see him or uninterested.  That’s good.  It is in the characterization of a female who glowers at people that she would put a wall up to protect herself from someone like him.

However, overall, the story just contains too many problems.  That they wouldn’t be together in the first place is a problem, but then that he’d begin to see her as the most beautiful woman around simply because he’s had so many beautiful women that he’s become blase about the whole sex thing is a bigger issue.  Romance novels don’t have to be strictly realistic, but if an author decides to work within the confines of certain realities, then any story that doesn’t respect them suffers.  In addition, the dialogue is terrible–melodramatic.  Then at times, it’s chopped, like there should be so much more said, and you’re left thinking that no one would speak this way, in or out of bed.  Also, much of the book has to do with Charlotte’s cousin Lina, who is herself a seasoned debauch, and the men she enjoys, but none of that is as good as the interplay between Charlotte and Rohan.  Finally, the ending is just dreadful.  Rohan goes from being a seductive rake to a coldhearted cad and then to a man so in love he can’t think of life without her in a span of just a few chapters.  His coldness and cruelty to her don’t ring true, like much of the story.

Can opposites attract?  Sure.  But sometimes two people are just too different to be together.  Such is the case with the characters in Reckless.


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