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Breathless

House of Rohan Series, Book 3
Narrated by: Susan Ericksen
Length: 11 hrs and 28 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (399 ratings)
Regular price: $21.38
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How steamy is it? Hot Damn

Publisher's Summary

Ruined beyond repair and shunned by London society, lovely Miranda Rohan rebelliously embraces the freedom that comes from having nothing left to lose. However, this dangerous course throws her under the power of the darkly enigmatic Lucien de Malheur - known to many as the Scorpion. Seeking to destroy the Rohans, Lucien traps Miranda in a marriage she thinks is based on friendship but instead is rooted in vengeance. Yet even when she realizes the truth, their enmity fuels a shocking passion---and perhaps even more. Such a man might drive anyone to murder.

Pay another visit to the House of Rohan.
©2010 Anne Kristine Stuart Ohlrogge (P)2011 Tantor

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Judy
  • Champaign, IL, United States
  • 03-31-11

Not Your Ordinary Love Story

I read several bad reviews of this story (in other places) and I almost did not purchase this book. However, I really enjoyed the first two books in the series so I felt in my gut that this book couldn't be that far off the mark. I'm so glad I went with my instincts and purchased the book. None of the characters in this series are the run-of-the-mill "near perfect" people you ordinarily find in romance novels, which makes them all the more fascinating! While the male lead of this story was a particularly "disturbed" character, the female lead was more than a match for him! And while many objected that he did not repent enough in the end, it was obvious to me that she brought him to his knees on a much deeper level that I found extremely gratifying.

If you want mainstream romance with soap opera beautiful characters, you won't find it here. If you want characters that are realistically flawed, edgy and sometimes dangerous, visit the House of Rohan, from the beginning story if possible. I hope there is more to come in this series.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Horrible plot!

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Anne Stuart is a skillful author, but the plot was horrible.

What was most disappointing about Anne Stuart’s story?

SPOILER ALERT: The story was unbelievable. The villain/protagonist coerces Miranda Rohan into remaining with him by threatening to kill Miranda's brother and states that he is motivated by vengeance. The basis of this vengeance? Lucien's insane half sister kills herself because of a slight from one of Miranda's brothers. Lucien commissions another man to destroy Miranda's reputation by abducting and raping her and then proceeds to rape her himself at a later point in the book. Disappointingly, Stuart describes the rape as "not rape" since Miranda didn't resist since she knew she would not be able to win and would be overpowered. After another betrayal, Lucien shows scars to Miranda, and Miranda cries and forgives everything. Lucien never earned trust or respect... never works to earn love.

What does Susan Ericksen bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Ericksen sounds like a very mature narrator... maybe in her mid to late 40s or 50s... not that of a woman in her 20s.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Not your ordinary romance story

I really like this series. The heros(?) start off so bad that, although I know they are going to eventually redeem themselves, It's interesting to see how the author connects the dots to get them there. Also, the heroines aren't the usual cookie cutter women - these women aren't drop dead beautiful and they have some very realistic, gritty problems. I hope the author writes more in this series - they are never boring.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kelley
  • CA, United States
  • 02-04-12

Peerless

If you haven't read this book yet, I'm jealous. You are in for such an excellent time. Anne Stuart has a gift for placing her heros dangerously close to the evil edge and this one totters thrillingly near the brink. The heroine's 'courage' is delightfully fresh and remarkably believable and the chemistry between the two is scrumptious.
Enjoy!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

the "sexy" rape-y scenes are problematic

Yes, spoilers ahead.

I’ll start by saying I enjoyed this book for the most part. It could have been a better book if the ending had been properly fleshed out. Who doesn't love a tale of gothic revenge? Any romance born in these circumstances will certainly not be pure and wholesome, which is reflected in the unbalanced power dynamic between the two leads. My biggest issue with this book is that it breezes over sexual violence with its mostly-female audience, and the author subjects the female lead to traumatizing experiences without giving her the reckoning that she deserves.

I know the world of romance novels is changing as we continue to educate ourselves about the traumatic effects of rape culture. Judging by romance novels from forty years ago, it's amazing how far we've come in our treatment of female leads and what they should have to endure at the hands of their "love". It makes it difficult, however, that a lot of us have grown up reading / falling in love with alpha-male characters. As times progress, some authors have figured out how to address the issue of consent while still maintaining strong, sometimes dominant male leads (usually by giving the heroines a proper amount of self-worth and a tongue that bites back). I don't find that Stuart is among this group. With cringe-worthy repetition, we hear her male leads croon the same phrase to their heroines: "It won't be rape." I think this is Stuart's way of saying that she is aware of the issue, trying to set her readers’ minds at ease.

But saying it isn't rape doesn't make it so. It's a romance novel, so we know she actually DOES want it, and romance novelists have often capitalized on this sexy edge, this slippery slope, between yes and no. But let's bring things back into perspective for just a sec: Miranda knows Lucien to be a man cold enough to take her away from her family and condemn her to a life of misery and loneliness, a man who would murder her own brother, a man who has shown no sign of real character or empathy. She is far away from home and everything she knows, against her will. She has already been abducted and raped once before. Put yourself in her shoes. Would you whole-heartedly jump into bed? And if she wasn’t whole-hearted, that means Lucien used sexual desire as a way to slide past those very real fears and defenses. Simply because someone experiences a sexual or emotional response to being touched does not mean they asked for it and does not mean they want it. Simply because you climax does not mean you wanted it all along, especially when you explicitly said "no". I think any romance novelist that chooses to write so flippantly on such serious topics as sexual violence should stop by their local DV/SA shelter. I guarantee that that delicate line of consent will immediately lose its sex-appeal once you've talked to someone who has experienced it in real life and is dealing with the aftermath.

Some readers will find it impossible to forgive Lucien for the way he treated Miranda, and I think that is totally fair. I would have been inclined to accept them as a couple in the end, if only they'd had time for sincere reconciliation. Because ultimately, the book ended with the hero showing little remorse for his actions, and I think the biggest problem with that is that readers might think this kind of behavior isn't a big deal. Giving an innocent person over to be raped is a big deal. Taking away someone's personal freedom and imprisoning them with no chance of escape is a big deal. Offering up the woman you care about to be raped and humiliated by a group of strangers is a big deal.

And to add insult to injury, Stuart does not allow her heroine to be wounded by his treachery for more than a paltry moment. The author had a fun time allowing Miranda to momentarily consider murder and call Lucien every bad name in the book, but her tirade felt more like a joke than the real and dignified response to his betrayal that she deserved. She forgives him almost immediately, accepting him into her bed literally hours after she was tied up and almost gang raped, by his hand. And all he has to do for her acceptance is to ride angrily around on a horse for a few hours and break down her bedroom door with an axe.

Throughout the book, the author leads us to believe that Miranda has a particular strength of spirit. Does it suddenly flee her in moments when its most needed? I find it unbelievable that a character with such self-worth would let the sight of his blood or some scars be enough to make her forget how she had been humiliated by this man, again and again. Miranda deserved a better ending with her hero, and frankly, Lucien deserved better, too. He deserved at least a few pages to fully flesh out those feelings of revenge and guilt that were driving him so single-mindedly throughout the entire story. And in the end, Stuart writes, he just "didn't care anymore” about his revenge and his dead sister. It makes no narrative sense. The final climax felt like the author ran out of pages. If Stuart hadn't left the reveal so close to the end, the final scenes might have felt more meaningful. A frank discussion between the two leads about all Miranda had endured by Lucien's hand would have gone a long way to show that the author took any of these issues seriously.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Disgusted!

There were some good and funny parts but overall I’m pretty disgusted. I loved the first 2 books but this one, just left me angry. Seriously this dude sets her up to get raped, then sets her up for an orgy, changing his mind at the last minute and he doesn’t really have to do anything to atone for these horrors. She forgives him in like 2 seconds... are you kidding me!?! If this seems plausible to anyone, rape culture is even worse than I thought. Absolutely disgusted!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Distasteful, Yet Riveting

The results of a vendetta by the Scorpion on the innocent sister of his enemy was unforgivable. The cruelty, the total lack of consideration for human life or regard for others is unexceptable, but the story kept me wanting to see how it all played out. It takes a truly talented author to keep their reader riveted to a story with such distasteful content.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Kimberly
  • ANN ARBOR, MI, United States
  • 09-24-18

Stockholm syndrome meets Fatal Attraction meets Beauty and the Beast

Straight from the you-can-change-a-man-if-you-love-him-enough tradition. Dysfunction is a valid tactic for mixing things up, but this one was too dark, too unlikely, and too ugly for me.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Take the Summary Seriously!

I’m still trying to process this one. I was probably more addicted to this one even slightly more than I was with the preceding two books in the series. The banter and back and forth between the two characters playing off one another and trying to thwart the other was pretty darn great! On the other hand, I couldn’t condone most of Lucien’s morals and motivations and I had to work to keep reminding myself to suspend my belief that Miranda could still love someone who didn’t bat an eye at potentially murdering someone from her family and who actively and intentionally worked to make her miserable (at least intermittently). I define love as wanting to do good for others. But Lucien frequently did not seem to want good things for Miranda and I was torn between hoping for them to come together, or wanting her to move on and run away. Mainly I just wanted Lucien to wake up and snap out of his maliciousness. He has a near-FATAL case of denial. As far as love-hate stories go, this one is pretty extreme, and yet, for the most part was also entertaining. The last scene in this book was so surprising… and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. Essentially it’s a happy ending. (In reality I think this couple would need a lot of counseling – but the next book lets us know they get on well.)

However, I really enjoyed the book from beginning until almost the end, and I laughed multiple times. This might be the funniest of the four books because of some of the ridiculous things that Miranda says when she’s attempting to taunt Lucien! I still recommend this one. It is an interesting and overall fun story once I shrugged off my minor qualms. Additionally, one of those qualms is the messages about/definitions of rape presented in the story. I’m pretty sure Miranda’s experience qualifies as rape. Also, it can be rape even if the victim climaxes.

Just know, that when the summary says that Lucien is out for vengeance, they ain’t jokin’! Holy moly, he holds on to that motive (frustratingly) for the WHOLE book. We as readers/listeners can tell well before Lucien can, that he cares about Miranda, but the author’s dedication to making Lucien’s character cling to these revenge motives ultimately impedes and hampers both his character’s development and that of the main relationship. However, it also creates some memorable and pretty amazing situations and dialogue, so… It sort of pays off? But I can’t help but wish that at 2/3 of the way through he would’ve had his personal breakthrough and there would’ve been a little less emotional manipulation in favor of his embracing the joy of being in love.

Susan Ericksen is wonderful and I almost didn’t want it to end so that I could keep listening to her. Her voice/accents for the sexy thief were my favorite!! Incidentally, I was very intrigued by the secondary love story between Miranda’s friend and the king of thieves, and while it was a happy ending, I was disappointed that their story wasn’t more fleshed out.

Overall I can recommend this one with some hesitance about the main character being both rather fascinating and sarcastically awesome… but also warped.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Love

On of my all time favs. Story and narrator! You can never go wrong with this combination.
Three more words :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful