Flawless, by Carrie Lofty

>> Monday, February 13, 2017

TITLE: Flawless
AUTHOR: Carrie Lofty

PAGES: 416

SETTING: Early 20th century South Africa
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: 1st in The Christies series

A passion this seductive is more precious than diamonds...

Sir William Christie, ruthless tycoon and notorious ladies' man, is dead. Now his four grown children have gathered for the reading of his will. What lies in store for stepsiblings Vivienne, Alexander, and twins Gareth and Gwyneth? Stunning challenges that will test their fortitude across a royal empire...and lead them to the marvelously passionate adventures of their lives.

Lady Vivienne Bancroft fled England for New York, hoping to shed the confines of her arranged marriage to unrepentant rogue Miles Durham, Viscount Bancroft—though she never forgot the fiery desire he unleashed with his slightest touch. And when the gambling man arrives on her doorstep for a little sensual revenge for her desertion, he is met with Vivienne's dilemma: She must earn her father's inheritance by profitably running a diamond business worth millions in colonial South Africa.

Swept together in an exotic undertaking filled with heated passion and hungry temptation, will Vivienne and Miles discover that the marriage vows they once made are the greatest snare—or the most treasured reward?
Such a disappointment! I have accumulated quite a few of Carrie Lofty's books in my TBR. Several people have recommended her writing, and her settings all look so very interesting. This one was no exception.

The basic setup of the series is one of those "family patriarch trying to control his family from beyond the grave" things. William Christie has died, and his children will need to succeed at a task before they can inherit. They have each been assigned a failing enterprise and they must turn a profit, however small, in a set period. For Vivienne, that enterprise is a diamond brokerage in Kimberley, South Africa. This is taking place in the early 20th century, right after the Boer War, so it's potentially fascinating (actually, the same setting in any time period would be great!).

Vivienne is surprised when arriving in South Africa, her estranged husband is waiting there to meet her. She and Lord Miles Bancroft have been separated for quite a while, after she left him, and she's not sure what he's after, beyond some of the inheritance. To be honest, in the third of so of the book that I read, neither was I. Whenever we're in Miles' head it's all a confusing mishmash of greed, need for revenge and infatuation. Could be interesting, but unfortunately, it's all topped with a massive sense of entitlement.

And that was the problem at that stage: I really disliked Miles, and I despised Vivienne for not standing up for herself with him. It's that very old fashioned thing of the heroine having a traitorous body that betrays her whenever the hero decides to manhandle her in any way. That used to be par for the course, but I've become pretty intolerant of this in the last few years. So yeah, in the section I read, Miles was a total asshole. Their relationship dynamics were all about the power play, which is not my thing at all. Miles spends most of his time trying to enforce his will over Viv, and using sex to do so. There are a lot of punishing kisses and lots of dubious consent (he goes "of course I won't force you", but then tells Viv he will help her only if she sleeps with him and is an enthusiastic participant. Ugh.).

I had the hope things would get better (I gave in and had a look at goodreads reviews, and several people reported they disliked Miles at first but warmed to him as the book went on). However, there is so much mental lusting here that trying to push through felt like a huge chore. I gave up after a few days of only being able to read 5 pages at a time. No one's got time for that, and there are too many good books in my massive TBR.

I will give Lofty another try, hoping I simply chose the wrong book to start with, but I'm a bit worried now.



Barb in Maryland 13 February 2017 at 21:51  

The only Lofty title that I really enjoyed was 'His Very Own Girl'. That's a WWII setting with a British female pilot and an American medic. Good stuff! None of her medievals interested me enough to try them. I almost made it through 'Flawless', but eventually gave up, as I liked neither Viv or Miles. Neither the action nor the interesting time period/setting could make up for the main characters. I wasn't even tempted to try either of the other books in the series.
I was just checking--looks like she hasn't written anything in several years...

Rosario 14 February 2017 at 06:35  

Barb: I really hope some of her other books are better. The other two I've picked up over the years are two books set in early 19th century Austria, which is a setting I'm really attracted to. I'm a bit worried now. And yes, I'm not really tempted by the other Christie books now :(

Marianne McA,  14 February 2017 at 09:46  

I've only read the first of her books - 'What a Scoundrel Wants.' It's too long ago now to say anything meaningful about it, but while I wanted to like it - because I followed her blog at the time - it wasn't for me. (And again, I was never tempted to try another.)

Wendy 15 February 2017 at 23:36  

Well, phooey. I really liked this one, and tend to like Lofty's historicals in general, so take my recommendations for what they're worth. I'd need to dig up my reviews but while I did like Flawless I think Starlight was a stronger book for me. And I positively loved Song of Seduction.

What I tend to like about Lofty's historicals is that her heroines tend to worry about "safety" and "security." Not many historical romance writers talk about this - but in eras when women had very few rights and limited options - darn tootin' they'd be worried about safety and security! I read Lofty's historicals back when they were first released and those bits of the heroines' angst were what really stuck with me.

Rosario 16 February 2017 at 19:41  

Marianne: That's one of her medievals, isn't it? Hmm, I really do hope the 19th c. Austria ones are better!

Wendy: That's really interesting about Lofty's heroines. Definitely something that would appeal to me, I think, and not something I saw in Vivienne, so I think I might try the other ones sooner rather than later and find out if they work for me :)

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