Saturday, March 31, 2012

WEM VIII: Flawless by Carrie Lofty

So I'm up this morning at 8am to watch curling. Am I addicted? I'm starting to think yes LOL. Then again, this is the last event of the year, so I better enjoy it when I can! Plus, it won't get as extensive a coverage than the other championships have received, because the Men's World is taking place in Switzerland and therefore, there's the time difference. So instead of 2 matches a day, I'll only get one :(

The good news is that I'm up early, so my week-end will be longer. Technically, LOL. By the way, this week-end is Bloggiesta. While I did not sign up, I read many participants' posts and it had inspired me :) I think I'm going to tinker around with the blog a little bit.  Cross-post some reviews into Goodreads, check that all the images are still working and the right sizes and perhaps, label every post :P We'll see :)

First though, let's get down to business :) For the second week in a row, there was a tie for the Week-End's Minis feature. Both Flawless by Carrie Lofty and The Many Sins of Lord Cameron by Jennifer Ashley got three votes. I actually planned to write both mini-reviews... but when it came time to write The Many Sins of Lord Cameron's, I realized I didn't remember enough of the story ^_^; So I think I'll use this week to refresh my memory and it'll be one of the mini-review for next week's WEM :) For now, enjoy Flawless by Carrie Lofty!

Flawless by Carrie Lofty
published by Simon & Schuster in September 2011

A passion this seductive is more precious than diamonds...

Sir William Christie, ruthless tycoon and notorious ladies' man, is dead. Now his four grown children have gathered for the reading of his will. What lies in store for stepsiblings Vivienne, Alexander, and twins Gareth and Gwyneth? Stunning challenges that will test their fortitude across a royal empire...and lead them to the marvelously passionate adventures of their lives.

Lady Vivienne Bancroft fled England for New York, hoping to shed the confines of her arranged marriage to unrepentant rogue Miles Durham, Viscount Bancroft—though she never forgot the fiery desire he unleashed with his slightest touch. And when the gambling man arrives on her doorstep for a little sensual revenge for her desertion, he is met with Vivienne's dilemma: She must earn her father's inheritance by profitably running a diamond business worth millions in colonial South Africa.

Swept together in an exotic undertaking filled with heated passion and hungry temptation, will Vivienne and Miles discover that the marriage vows they once made are the greatest snare—or the most treasured reward?
Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Christies series, Book #1

What do you need to know? Lots of details were left out of the blurb, so if you don't want to be spoiled, better not continue on! You've been warned :)

So Vivienne is the biological daughter of Sir William Christie, but she is also a bastard. Sir William found out about her when she was 6 or 7 years old (in France), took her home (in America) and told the world she was his adopted daughter. All her life, Vivienne has been grateful to her parents for taking her in and accepting her. As a result, she tried to be the perfect daughter and later on, when she married Miles Durham, Viscount Bancroft, the perfect wife... Basically, Vivienne strives for respectability because she never forgot that she was a bastard and her biological mother was French actress/courtesan. However, Miles is a debauched rake of the first order and doesn't care about respectability. But worst, he awakens Vivienne's passionate nature. Around Miles, Viv seems to lose control... Scared, Viv leaves him and moves to New York.

As for Miles, he married Viv for money... but somewhere along the way, he fell in love with her. When she hightailed it to America, his pride took a hit. With Sir William's death, it gives him an excuse to go after Viv. And when he learns of Sir William's will: one million dollars if Viv can turn around a failing diamond brokerage house in South Africa within a year, he's determined to have both.

Why this book? I heard a lot of good about Ms Lofty's writing and I've been meaning to give it a try. I'm not much into medieval romances, so I was looking at her historical books which have the added bonus of taking place in unusual setting. The problem is her last few releases have been in e-book format only and that made me drag my feet ^_^; So as soon as Flawless was released, I jumped on it :)

My thoughts? I'm happy I've finally read a book by Ms Lofty! You can be sure it won't be the last :) Really, Flawless measured up to the expectations of being an unusual historical romance. Ms Lofty did a great job with the setting, being South Africa. It wasn't just a location, it was another character as it came to life in front of our eyes. The culture and the lifestyle, those were elements that set the tone, the feel of Flawless... and it was really well done :)

The other plus for me in this book was Miles. I really loved his character and his growth. Miles lived his life as everyone expected it from him being an aristocrat: he drank, he gambled and he enjoyed women. Later on, he married Vivienne for her money and continued on his path. Although I think he did cut back on women. Anyway, I kind of liked the fact that he was unrepentant about his behavior. Yes, he was a bit of a jerk, but what do you expect from a man who grew up being entitled to things, right? And then, when he got to South Africa, he started changing. It was as if being South Africa, he was suddenly freed, no longer under close scrutiny. Yes, he was still a titled man, but it meant less. He started working, took a closer interest in business and people would not comment as much because it wasn't as disdainful as it was in London. Plus, coming to South Africa, he had purposes: to seduce and win back his wife as well as turn around the business so they could inherit the money. So he channeled his energy into achieving these goals, became more focused and turned out to be a good man, someone you could really admire :) He made the book for me :)

On the other hand, there was Vivienne. I think once again, Ms Lofty did a good job with her characterization.  I thought Vivienne had a lot of depth and her need for respectability and safety were understandable. Unfortunately, I really had a hard time connecting with her :( The problem is that she came across as a bit standoff-ish, even with Miles. Also, I felt she should have open herself to Miles a bit more... He was her husband after all. I know that theirs was a marriage of convenience, but there was chemistry and attraction between them. Miles was a jerk, but he wasn't a monster or a bad man... If she had explained to him why she needed respectability, safety, I'm sure Miles would have understood and perhaps be more considerate. Even in a marriage of convenience, you need a bit more communication. Also, it annoyed me a bit that she fell in love with Miles and her reaction was to run away...

My Grade? B. Had I warmed up to Viv, I would have given Flawless a higher grade. Still, there's no doubt in my mind that Flawless was a strong and solid book. I'll definitively be reading the next installment :)