What a Woman Needs by Caroline Linden

>> Thursday, November 10, 2005

I have a guest here today: Arielle, from 3rdWorldGirl. Arielle is a huge romance novel fan who lives in Haiti. She wanted to try her hand at writing a couple of reviews every now and then, so, since her own blog has nothing to do with romance novels, we'll be posting them here.

So, without further ado, here's her first one, a review of What a Woman Needs by debut author Caroline Linden, which she rates a B+. I haven't read this one myself, but after reading Arielle's comments, I've gone and ordered it. Expect my take on it in a few weeks!


Guest reviewer

What a Woman Needs by Caroline Linden

How hard can it be to marry an heiress?

Not terribly, Stuart Drake thinks, if you're good-looking, charming, and in line for a viscount title, which, fortunately, he is. To end his penniless existence, he simply has to convince his intended bride's shrewish, wizened old guardian that he isn't a fortune hunter... which, unfortunately, he is in the extreme. Still, once he meets the old witch, how difficult could it prove to charm her?

Quite, actually. Especially when the lady in question is temptation made flesh- a gorgeous widow with a reputation for knowing a rake when she sees one, having bedded many herself. She'd rather die than let Stuart win. And with his plans thwarted, Stuart has only one option: to take revenge on his tormentor through seduction. But learning what this woman needs might only leave him hungry for more...
I bought this book because I'd read that the leads were both in their thirties. I love "older" romances because I'd like to believe the ability to love truly and deeply isn't the sole province of youth.

At first, several plot points sounded all too familiar: the widowed aunt, the fortune hunter rake, the headstrong but naive ward. Ms Linden managed to put a zesty twist that made it palatable.

I think Ms Linden, for all that she's a debut author, handled this relationship beautifully. Stuart and Charlotte are wonderfully matched in strength, wit and sensuality. You never feel one has the upper hand on the other. Well, never for too long, anyway.

I also loved that this couple learned their lessons the hard way and they were both made stronger and smarter by these experiences.They are also unsure of their feelings for each other. Charlotte, in particular, doesn't quite know what to make of Stuart: "No man had ever looked at her that way, as if she were precious and amazing and completely beyond his expectations. As if he couldn't believe he'd been lucky enough to find her. As if he might be different than every other man in her life."

There's also something to be said about an experienced heroine. The love scenes were very hot and never awkward. It's about mutual pleasure rather than a one-sided usual initiation. But what I loved the most was the chemistry between the two. It's wonderfully hot and, better yet, sustained even after they have their first love scene.

Tender and sensual scenes abound, as here, at the opera, where Stuart is watching Charlotte, seated in front of him: "Her shoulders were entirely bare, and he wondered what she would do if he leaned forward and kissed the back of her neck, right at the necklace clasp as he undid it and let the pearls slide down..."

I think I appreciated most of all their honesty. These are definitely characters who know who they are and what they've done. There is no sudden change of behavior, rather a liberation of their true selves as the story progresses. You don't find that as often in historical romances anymore.

One of the few negatives I found in this book was regarding some of the secondary characters, villain included. Some of them were distracting, almost intruding on the romance. The ending was also a little too action-packed, and some issues were resolved too sweetly for my taste.

But one character that intrigues me, and that I'm looking forward to, is the Duke of Ware. In an interesting twist, Ms Linden did *not* make him the hero of her next book, What a Gentleman Wants. Still, the very air of mystery she surrounded Stuart's friend with was enough to whet my appetite. I strongly recommend this book.



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