I am a lover of books. I enjoy losing myself in a fabulous romance and great story plot.
This book caught my interest because I enjoy complicated characters who experience a lot of personal growth through love. Yes, that's probably the standard formula for a "reformed "rake" story and I must say I am a sucker for reformed rakes!
This book had a lot of good reviews so I thought I would indulge and was hoping for a triumphant read. Even though the triumph of the story did not come until the very end, I was relieved that the Hero, Viscount Rohan was able to make a complete turnaround and find love in the innocent but fierce, Elinor Harriman.
This was and edgy read for me because of the weighty and dark themes that engulf the lives of both the Hero and Heroine. Both leads have experienced extreme trauma or abuse and this is what drives their passions, actions and needs throughout the book.
I have to say that my heart really went out to the heroine, Elinor Harriman. I don't think I have read a book about a more quietly, steadfast and resilient heroine. This woman's inner strength is made out of steel. Seriously, she is a pillar of strength.
Elinor has faced some of the most scaring psychological experiences a woman can face. She endures the personal rejection and verbal abuse of her mother, which never improved. She is constantly overlooked by suitors when in her sister's presence. She takes on this great responsibility for her household (talk about stress). She is willing to protect her sister Lydia to her own demise. AND, her knight in shining armor, Viscount Rohan is well, ruthless......
Elinor's actual beauty and allure is a subject that intrigued me. And, I have to say, I'm not sure about how her looks actually measured out. There is a lot of talk about her nose, and how it would look simply amazing when she is 40 years old---whatever that meant????---But, I got the feeling that she is a pretty woman, but simply overshadowed when next to her sister Lydia because of her sister's extraordinary beauty. Her looks or person is referred to as, "delicious;" "face of character;" "plain;" "rarity;" and her sister Lydia calls her "beautiful & "striking" (but that's her sister of course)." We know she is special since the Hero is magnetically drawn and attracted to her... [more on that later]
Viscount Francis Rohan is a very wounded character. He is emotionally stunted...seriously. Francis is cynical, sarcastic, dangerously flawed, and I suppose these are all prerequisites that allow him to be the ruthless leader of the underground group of depraved aristocrats who describe themselves as the "Heavenly Host." His devilish ways meet their match when he is mesmerized by the feisty, strong-willed heroine Elinor. As a suitor to Elinor, the stirrings of his heart are kept just like his club or house of revels----underground. Since the moment he meets Elinor his association is forever fused to her. He becomes her provider even though he's emotionally distant. He supplies for the needs of her home (provides food, fire wood, clothes, furniture etc.). Because he is emotionally messed up due to a serious trauma he experienced as a young man, he can't seem to process his feelings for her. So, like the emotional retard that he is, Francis continues to channel his sexual appetite through the debauched activities of his secret society (while pining for Elinor). Yup, very flawed indeed. I kind of laughed or felt some satisfaction when he had a nuclear meltdown after having sex with the heroine. It was like vanilla sex was so crazy amazing for him because he had never experienced sex with emotion. And, he did find that fulfillment in his heroine...that emotional connection he so desperately needed to be whole again.
The love between Elinor & Francis Rohan is not a nurturing love...at least not in the form of sweet, comforting words. In fact, throughout their relationship his treatment of her is marked with antagonism, manipulation and mental cat & mouse games. I felt exhausted for Elinor because it was like she never got a break. I suppose she got the message that he wanted her because of his constant interest and seduction games aimed at her person.
Francis's love toward Elinor was masked for most of the book and he really pissed me off when he would never tell her what he was really thinking. This is why I'm not sure if Elinor is pretty, or not. The reason being that Francis Rohan is so sensitive to the "buttons" that set others off, that it really seemed as though he played on her assumptions of herself and used them against her....to try and pull and stretch out her desires for him. He was constantly messing with her head and I suppose the purpose was to break down her strong defenses...I suppose that was necessary since Elinor was so guarded.
Even though there were many times I wanted to slap Francis, there were other times that I though his tough treatment was almost necessary for Elinor. For example, when he separated her from her sister, I kind of thought that was a good thing since she had this whole "martyr complex" going on. I just wish he was more sweet with her and not as harsh. But, the moments he was sweet was during their one love making scene. This is why many reviewers say that the story felt rushed at the end because even up until the last minutes of the book....he barely admits he wants, needs and loves her. It's almost as though Elinor bullied the words out of him. For this reason, the epilogue was great and quite welcome, if not this book would have been a big let down. The epilogue was great because it showed that their love was passionate & that they worked everything out....they found the real thing in terms of love.
WHAT I FOUND DISTURBING:
I had a really hard time with the "Heavenly Host" group because at the heart of it, it was a group of sexually depraved predators & even child molesters, by description. That really made my stomach churn.
BUT, I LOVED how Francis threw them out when he had his nuclear meltdown. I was so glad he was able to walk away from the crazy, depraved lifestyle.
I wish Francis was more tender with Elinor, but he's just not the mushy type. I suppose he at least told her about how alluring she was to him when he was constantly trying to seduce her....I guess that's something???
The tender moments came from the love development between Redding and Lydia.
Great narrator...Susan Eriksen made the listening experience a real treat!
Not sure I will continue with the series just yet...I kind of need a break from the angst.
It dragged at parts.
Make the characters more interesting.
Boring slow and unchanging
The story was just ok.
The House of Rohan is an adult book. Very graphic. The story is very crude and filled with detailed descriptions of depravity. The narratives are too long. The author could have presented the exact story in a less time consuming manner. These long periods of BLAH BLAH BLAH are somewhat boring. It makes it difficult to finish the book. Maybe the unabridge version would have been a better buy.
Based on reviews I was hoping for something much better - but the story was predictable -- the writing was trite - and the reader was too strident. Definitely a D.