Craving The Forbidden, by India Grey

>> Friday, November 25, 2011

TITLE: Craving The Forbidden
AUTHOR: India Grey

PAGES: 192
PUBLISHER: Harlequin Presents

SETTING: Contemporary UK
TYPE: Category romance
SERIES: Followed by In Bed With a Stranger

The wrong Fitzroy brother?

Ticket-dodging in a first-class train carriage is not how bubbly Sophie Greenham envisaged meeting Kit Fitzroy, wealthy aristocrat, fearless army hero and brother of her friend Jasper. The smouldering heat between her and Kit is an unwelcome shock—especially as Sophie is masquerading as Jasper's girlfriend all holiday!

Although Kit's bravery is legendary, he's dreading the return to his magnificent ancestral manor. But Sophie's vibrancy dispels the shadows in his tortured soul, consuming Kit with a potent desire for the one woman he's forbidden to touch...
Oh, how I love my Kindle. As I settled back on my comfy sofa for an evening of reading, I checked my favourite blogs on my phone, and happened upon a review of the latest India Grey at Dear Author. It struck me as exactly what I felt like reading, so Kindle on, clicked to the book, clicked to buy, and I was reading it within a minute. Well, I did stop to ask Jane a question before I started reading it properly... more on this later.

The plot of Craving The Forbidden, is not a particularly original one, but it's one that really appeals to me. It's almost exactly the same as an old Harlequin Presents that I used to reread every year ages ago: the heroine is asked by a male friend to pretend to be his girlfriend on a visit home. There she meets her friend's older brother, and there's a very obvious mutual attraction. However, the heroine can't give her friend away by telling the truth about their relationship, so that leaves the older brother thinking the worst.

The heroine in this case is Sophie Greenham, a not-very-successful actress who's asked by her aristocratic gay friend, Jasper, to accompany him to the old family pile in Northumberland for his father's birthday. Jasper is not out to his very traditional father, nor to his intimidating older brother, Kit, an officer currently serving in Afghanistan.

Kit's first sight of Sophie comes at the perfect time. He's just attended a funeral service for one of his men in London and is settled on the train to Edinburgh on a journey he isn't particularly looking forward to. It might be his father's birthday, but they have never got along. Growing up, his father seemed to dislike him, showing a marked preference for his very charming younger brother, Jasper. So understandably, Kit is not in a great mood. Until, that is, a whirlwind of a young woman bursts into his train carriage and sits across the table from him.

Sophie makes Kit feel like smiling, and he can't seem to get rid of the feeling (or the strong attraction he feels for her) even when they arrive at Alnburgh and he realises this is Jasper's girlfriend that he's lusting after.

There aren't any real surprises here. I quite enjoyed the book, but my enjoyment was more because I so loved the setup, than because the execution was anything more than adequate. There were some things I really liked, like the family tensions surrounding Kit (which are explained by a revelation later in the book), which make him a bit of an outsider even though he's the eldest and independently wealthy. There were others that didn't work quite so well, though, like the fact that Sophie really did seem pretty flightly and unfocused, and even at the end of the book, I didn't know what the hell she planned to do with her life.

I must say, as well, that I got a bit distracted by details. There were random, pretty unimportant ones, like: is it likely that a train from London to Edinburgh would stop at a tiny village like Alnburgh? Others annoyed me more. For instance, Grey takes pains to show that Sophie is a honest person who wouldn't dream of cheating a train company of a fare. See, on the train to Alnburgh, she falls asleep in first class and Kit pays her fare when the inspector comes round, without her knowing. She gets off the train in a rush, having woken up at the last minute, and is almost immediately struck with guilt at not having paid. Later on, Grey makes a point of showing us that she buys two tickets when she only needs one, to compensate. But then we have Kit, whose main reason to be in Alnburgh is that he needs to convince his father to be sensible and put the estate in his name, otherwise when he dies, the inheritance tax would be high enough that Alnburgh Castle would have to be sold and turned into a hotel, or a conference centre for businessmen to do those awful bonding exercises. And no one worries about the morality of that massive tax avoidance, which to me, although technically legal (apparently, if this happens 7 years before the death takes place it's ok), is very morally dubious. So cheating a private company of a relatively small sum (even with the massively overpriced train tickets we have in this country) = wrong. But cheating the State of a huge sum (which will go to pay for things like hospitals) = no problem at all. Yeah, well, I might be overanalysing this.

Now, going back to something I said earlier: I mentioned at the beginning of this review that I had to stop to ask Jane a question. That was because on opening the book, the first thing I saw just after the title page was: "The epic romance of Kit and Sophie begins with Craving the Forbidden, and concludes with” In Bed With a Stranger coming out in December. I couldn't find anything about this on Grey's out-of-date website, but Jane assured me that this had a proper HEA ending, which it does. In fact, I wouldn't really have noticed anything missing if I hadn't seen that bit at the beginning. There is, however, another book coming out which continues their story. Much as I did enjoy this, I don't think I'll be reading that one. From what Jane has said, Kit is redeployed to Afghanistan, which doesn't particularly tempt me to read this, and also, there's this evil upper class woman who turns up in Craving who doesn't do all that much, and I suspect she'll have a bigger role to play in the next one.



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