Stayed up late finishing up Julie Garwood's REBELLIOUS DESIRE. I must thank my friend for that one. The back blurb was promising but alarmed me initially:
Of all the dukes in England, Jered Marcus Benton, the Duke of Bedford, was the wealthiest, most handsome and most arrogant. And of all London's ladies, he wanted the tender obedience of only one: Caroline Richmond....
Why was I alarmed? Well, because novels like these usually end up pissing me off because the heroine is always so unrealistically independent for the times that I want to strangle her! It's fuckin' Regency England, for Pete's sake, not the 60's, and we always see Ms. Fancypants risking her life trying to help poor drunk pox-ridden whores. In the end, there's always someone trying to stop her or she gets cornered by chimney sweeps or sailors and the hero comes along to save the day, by beating the shit out of them. He later takes her to his bachelor pad or his townhouse and fucks and comforts her 'til she begs for mercy. She then runs away, disappears for about a month, finds out she's knocked up and runs into the hero when she's as fat as a whale. The hero, who's been looking for her for months, takes a look at her, realizes she's pregnant with his kid, gives her a 5 second scolding, tells her he loves her and they get married and live happily ever after! Paaaalease!
Thank God, I was wrong about this book. My friend did it again! She steered me in the direction of yet another winner!!!
In REBELLIOUS DESIRE, I found not only a plot worth sinking my teeth into, but I was also introduced to characters whom I will not so easily forget:
Meet the hero, Jered Marcus Benton, the Duke of Bradford, "Bradford" to his friends. He is a second son who becomes heir after his father and eldest brother perish in a horrible accident. Because of this (and a betrayal by a woman he loved in his youth), he goes from lighthearted and carefree to overpowering, hardened, distrusting rake in no time. He's arrogant, possessive, intelligent, sexy, funny, honest, vulnerable and - my favorite - jealous of any man who dares step within 10 feet of the heroine.
Watching him freak out inside each time he sees a man in the presence of the woman he lusts after (whom he has also fallen madly in love with) is truly a pleasure. The man doesn't know how to behave and wants to beat up every guy who dares even look at his woman. I love jealous heroes who go apeshit whenever they think of some other guy having sex with their woman. What does that say about me? I don't know and frankly I could give a shit! I love Jered and it's about time authors modeled more heroes after him!
Now for the heroine...meet Caroline Richmond, a ravishing British beauty sent to Boston to live with an uncle after a traumatic childhood event. The heroine is appalled by her feelings for the hero for about two minutes. Once she realizes she can't fight them, she tries to get the hero to love her. She never hides her lust or feelings of love for him. She doesn't shy away from uttering the L-word! There's no "I will do the horizontal mambo with him every chance I get, but will try to ignore him every other time." There's isn't even a "I don't deserve your love" thought going through this woman's head. The horror! She knows she deserves love. She loves the hero and she's going to get him! This sister is DETERMINED to get her man and she will CUT anyone who stands in her way (ok...I'm exaggerating, but you get the idea)!
I love heroines like her who are honest with themselves! Caroline doesn't even beat around the bush. She tells him she loves him from the start; actually she tells him often. If she thinks he's going to stray, she'll even ask him flat out ARE YOU GOING TO FUCK ANOTHER WOMAN? Another heroine would have said zilch, just assumed he had a mistress and given the hero the cold shoulder throughout a good part of the novel. She was a joy to read...truly!
Not only that, but she's not perfect. She talks too much and laughs uncontrollably when she's nervous. Caroline is everything you would want in a heroine. I can't recall anything that I didn't like about her. She was smart, witty and sharp...what's not to like?
AVON should force its writers to read this book. A book in which the protagonists are both likeable? What a concept, huh?
I'm surprised I've never read anything by Julie Garwood. To be honest, I had never even heard of her 'til my friend told me I would love this book. Garwood's characters come to life and grab you with each page you read. I highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading more of her works. I checked Garwood out in All About Romance. Most of her books have received A ratings. How many other authors can say the same? I don't know if her current novels are as good as her older ones. REBELLIOUS DESIRE was written back in the early 80s. Much has changed in romance world since then. Authors who were once at the height of their talent have either fallen into obscurity, quit the genre altogether or are now at the top of their game. In any case, Garwood is now on my UBS TO BUY list. How many others knew of her existence and didn't tell me? Any books you would recommend by her? Any of her books you want to warn me against?