Trigger Warning: loss of a child
Another one of those odd, “look how happy and in love we are” covers for a forced marriage story, despite the obvious title.The original Mills and Boon cover conveys the tone much better.
Best line: “The men of Sicily slap the face of their bride on the wedding day – we of Sardinia save the slap for the occasion that merits it.”
Notes of interest: Nothing new here. Sex is happening, but so obliquely I wasn’t sure of it until the heroine got obliquely pregnant.
Mark, who is from Sardinia — a fact he mentions about every other sentence, so there’s no fear of forgetting it — lost his son in a horrible car wreck; he was also badly burned, and scarred. The wreck was caused by a hit and run driver, Rhodri, the son of Ravena’s beloved, frail guardian; to spare her guardian pain and stress, she agrees to marry Mark and have children with him. I almost DNF’d this one right there, because I was not happy about the death of a child being used as a plot point in such a way. It is treated more sensitively later.
Despite the plot and the threatening quote above, Mark isn’t half bad for an HP hero. He’s a little annoying with his insistance on believing that Ravena is in love with Rohdri, and I liked that she called him on it:
‘Each time we are alone he shares the room with us.’
‘Because you always have to mention him,’ she retaliated.
But he both catches Ravena with another man and finds her half-written letter to Rhodri without doing anything more than being all sad and bitter at her.
For her part, Ravena first believes Mark is still in love with his perfect first wife and then with a Sardinian girl. Jealousy makes her realize that he’s pretty damn hot, despite his scars. (Which are mentioned almost as often as Mark’s heritage.)
It’s a typical sort of story, but has a nice flow. The local color isn’t overdone, and the developing attraction Ravena feels for Mark is is well drawn.