I finished reading WHITNEY, MY LOVE last night. I had mixed feelings about the romance, deemed by many as groundbreaking. Reviews for the novels range anywhere from the “this was the best book evah” to the less sugary “this book sucked ass and the heroine was a moron.” I, for one, found the book very much deserving of the B grade given by AAR. However, I cannot honestly say that it was due to the heroine’s antics and initial hoydenish behavior. The hero provided much of the animosity and “argh” feelings that took control of me a couple of hundred pages before the conclusion (the book is a whopping 700 pages). I both loved and hated the romance. In the end, I would highly recommend the novel. The frustration the last 100 pages of the novel will cause you may lessen your overall enjoyment of the romance, but the love depicted in the preceding pages will make you willing to forgive the author for very nearly fucking up an almost perfect book.
Whitney Stone has been in love with Paul Sevarin since she was a child. At 15, her father sent her to France to live with her aunt and uncle in the hopes of them making a lady out of her AND to get this Paul chap out of her head and heart (I'm sugar coating here...the father is a real jerk to her, probably because she reminds him of his dead wife or something like that...I skimmed it a little, so I have no clue why he dislikes her). In Paris, Whitney flourishes and becomes the catch of Parisian society; she meets various gentlemen, among which the hot hot hot Nicholas DuVille (whom I hear has his own romance in an anthology, although dude deserves 700 pages more than Whitney, to be sure). She gets proposed to a great deal and even Nicky manages to fall in love, but Whitney’s thoughts and heart all belong to Paul Sevarin, whom she hopes to swindle into marrying her once she returns to England.
Anyhow, Clayton Westmoreland, the Duke of Claymore, meets Whitney during a masquerade ball and instantly is hit with a severe case of permanent arousal whenever she’s around. He must have her and decides to pay her father an astronomic sum for her hand, unbeknownst to dear Whitney (her father is broke and has lost all of Whitney's inheritance and dowry). When Whitney returns to England, Whitney manages to get Paul to propose to her. While this is all going on, Clayton, who pretends to be a mere neighbor, fondles her and kisses her every chance he gets. She’s totally lovin’ it, but she’s gotta marry Paul and show everyone who ever doubted she could get him to love her. Clayton knows about Whitney and Paul but hopes she’ll see reason. WRONG! When she tells her father of her intention to marry Paul, the shit hits the fan and he informs her of the marriage contract with Clayton. She’s furious and plots to elope with Paul…Paul, who is no where to be found. Paul who’s busy spending money he doesn’t have because he thinks Whitney is loaded. Fortune hunter anyone?
Anyhow, Whitney realizes what a jerk Paul is and ultimately is set to tell Clayton that she will marry him. Sounds simple? WRONG! Clayton is in London. Whitney goes there and figures she’ll surprise him and give him the good news. She realizes that she cares about him and that he cares about her. However, Clayton goes back early to see Whitney, not knowing she’s in London and hears from the entire village that Whitney and Paul are now engaged (a rumor spread by Paul’s mother and a bunch of other gossipmongers). He’s pissed. Not only that but some jealous twit who’s got the hots for Clayton insinuates that Whitney is a slut and has slept with both Paul AND Nicholas DuVille. He won’t believe this skank, right? AGAIN WRONG. He believes her, looks for Whitney in London, forces her to his house and proceeds to have sex with her…but oops, he soon learns that she’s a virgin. And while he’s thinking MY BAD, I AM SUCH A DOUCHE BAG, she’s apologizing to him because it’s her fault. Ultimately this is cleared up, they get married and all seems great, until Clayton believes that Whitney cheated on him and doesn’t love him. This gets cleared up soon enough, with Whitney apologizing to him again and Clayton feeling like shit over it and promising never to do it again.
Whatever, dude! Clayton is a total asshole to this woman, who I felt really sorry for. Here is a maybe 20 year old girl who is now pregnant and accused of sleeping around, when it’s obvious she’s not and she loves no one but Clayton. She’s also the same woman this retard almost raped (I hear the previous edition has him actually rape her) simply because he’s insecure and has issues. I felt sorry for Whitney and for myself because I had to witness this once spunky woman undergo a lobotomy at the hands of a man with ½ a ball.
The book started off with such a bang, too! Whitney had such fire, such a lust for life and then, once she married her fool, she turned into a sappy apologetic old woman with a severe case of Battered Wife Syndrome. Each time Clayton promised to cease his infuriating accusations and be good the next time, Whitney would apologize to him and say it was not his fault…it was hers, all hers! Whaaaaaaaaaaaat? Is she kidding? The last 100 pages or so were the saddest I’ve ever read. I could totally picture this as a Lifetime movie starring Valerie Bertinelli and that Italian guy from Dallas. I was appalled!
However, I didn’t hate the book. As much as Clayton’s jumping to conclusions frustrated me, I didn’t completely hate him. WHITNEY, MY LOVE was a purely enjoyable experience for 550 pages or so. McNaught should have ended the novel then and there. The continued misunderstandings and jealous rages of Clayton really tired me after a while and I started believing that if the book were 900 pages, instead of 700, he would continue to accuse his wife of cheating on him, possibly even with his brother.
The characters are not perfect and that’s what stands out. Perhaps this is even why the novel garnishes so much praise. As you read, you realize that Clayton is not at all the perfect arrogant duke of the early pages; he’s insecure and so afraid of losing Whitney, that he constantly puts his foot in his mouth. He loves Whitney with an intensity that is almost obsessive. As much as you want to hate him for his treatment of her, you can’t. At least, I couldn’t…not completely.
Whitney is a brat in the first pages of the novel, but she is also very young. As the novel develops, so does Whitney, growing up and becoming more and more a woman. Whitney's love for Clayton and need for his acceptance push her to constantly cover for him and blame herself each time he is unhappy. (I was surprised McNaught never completely covered why both characters acted the way they did…normally there’s always an explanation that follows). In modern times, all these two would need are a few therapy sessions to deal with their inner child and some couples counseling.
Clayton was depicted as the biggest jerk on the face of the earth. I did want Whitney to make Clayton grovel a lot more....a whole lot more...hey, maybe even dump his ass and make him suffer ON HER TERMS. There was none of that here. No revenge plots...no attempts to make him jealous. Nothing! It hurt me to see her apologize for his psychotic ramblings and accusations of adultery. If I had the ability to change anything about the book it would be having Whitney kick poor little Clayton in the balls with her Doc Martens!
In the end, despite all this, I would recommend WHITNEY, MY LOVE.