>> Monday, August 09, 2004
A friend lent me The Wild One (excerpt), by Danelle Harmon. It's the first in a quartet of which I'd read the third book some time ago. That book I wasn't too crazy about, but my friend told me that this one is amazing, and that the series probably doesn't stand alone all that well, so I thought I'd give it another try. Plus, the plot of this one sounded wonderful!
Lord Gareth de Montforte is known as an irresponsible rake with a heart of gold. When he thwarts a stagecoach robbery, he is stunned to discover that the beautiful young woman he has heroically rescued, Juliet Paige, is his deceased brother's fiancée, accompanied by her infant daughter. Despite his family's refusal to acknowledge Juliet, Gareth is determined to do right by the courageous woman who crossed an ocean to give her baby the name she rightfully deserves.I liked this one much better than the one I read first. It's probably that the whole family plays a big part in the book, so by starting with #3, I must have felt a little bit lost. The Wild One was a B.
As a practical American woman, Juliet is wary of marrying this black sheep aristocrat, yet she is hopelessly charmed by the dashing devil. Never has she met anyone who embraces life so thoroughly, who makes her laugh, who loves her so well. And, even when it seems the odds are against them, Juliet has absolute faith that Gareth will go beyond the call of duty to give her and her daughter a home -- and a love that will last a lifetime.
More than a romance, this book was the story of how immature Gareth, a man who considers himself worthless, grows up and proves himself a man who can take care of himself and who is worth just as much as any of his brothers. There's a romance, of course, and not a throwaway one, either, but Gareth's journey is the most compelling part of the book.
Gareth was an immensely likeable character, though at the beginning he definitely has to grow up quite a bit. He starts out very gallant, performing heroic feats, like saving Juliet from highwaymen. The time of truth, however, comes when he has to face up to the consequences of yet another fit of heroism. Ok, so he's offered to marry Juliet and take care of her and her child. Now what? Now he has to actually take care of them by himself, without the use of his family's money. The way he does this, with much decision and never losing his sense of humour, was endearing.
The romance was ok. It was a type of plot I always like. Gareth fell for Juliet almost immediately, but doubted very much that she could ever love him. She was in love with his brother, after all, and in the past he'd always been found wanting when compared to the very, very perfect Charles.So, on that side, I loved the romance. However, it was very hard to warm up to Juliet. This was so much Gareth's story, that I never really understood her, so many of her reactions to him I didn't get.
The whole angle about how eldest brother Lucien schemes and manipulates his brothers into a happy ending, I didn't find as good as I guess it's supposed to be. I really detest manipulative characters, no matter how well they mean or how positive the consequences of their actions are. I suppose it's because there are few things I hate more than people who think they know best about what's best for me, so this is a real hot button issue for me.
The most negative thing, though, wasn't something in the book but something that wasn't there. I would have liked very much, to see Gareth and Juliet's reaction to a certain suprising plot twist which takes place right in the epilogue. Well, surprising, that is, if one doesn't know the title of the second book, which, to be fair, one wouldn't at the time The Wild One came out. Still, their reaction to the news revealed in the epilogue would have been the test to their relationship, so I'm kind of irked that it wasn't part of their book.
It's one thing to accept that the man you loved is dead and that you love someone else. It's another thing to be faced with your first love's return. I have no doubt that Juliet is done with her feelings for Charles, of course, but Gareth! I would think that however convinced he is of Juliet's love for him, his insecurities will be resurrected with a vengeance at Charles' return.
I'm not really too interested in Charles' reaction to seeing that his former fiancée is now married to his brother. I don't know Charles, I don't care about him yet. I do know and care about Gareth, and it's how he deals with what must obviously be conflicting feelings (his happiness that Charles is alive against his fear that his being alive will rob him of Juliet's love) that really interests me. And of course, his realizing that Juliet chooses him over his perfect brother, that would be the ultimately emotional pay-off, and I feel very disappointed that this was left out of the book.