Stealing Heaven, by Madeline Hunter

>> Friday, September 27, 2002

I haven't had time to post lately, but I've started reading the latest Madeline Hunter book: Stealing Heaven. It comes highly recommended, and while the last one I read (The Protector) was just ok, I simply adored her first 3 (By Arrangement, By Possession and By Design). I still have Lord of A Thousand Nights in my TBR pile.

Book description:

They are adversaries, and the fate of a nation rests in their hands. They are lovers, who escape to the stars with their passion. In a world of rebellion and intrigue, their love divides their hearts and their loyalties. Except for those brief truces, when they steal a taste of heaven while in each other's arms.

Marcus of Angelsmore was not at all happy about being betrothed by the king to a woman he'd never laid eyes on. So when the brooding English knight accidently comes across her in a moonlit garden, he was both surprised -and delighted. Intelligent, charming, and beautiful, she was the most captivating woman he'd ever met. But the magic of that enchanted moment is soon shattered by cold reality: Nesta is not the woman he is to marry, but her sister.

Of all the women Marcus might desire, none could be more dangerous than the wild and tantalizing Welsh witch with secret ties to both rebellion and king. For Nesta no one could jeopardize her plans more than a man who would know secrets of both her heart...and her body. Yet the course of their lives -and the destinies of their two nations- will be forever altered as they defy everything to surrender to the most daring seduction of all...
Posted later...I loved Stealing Heaven, it was an A- for me, and reminded me of why I love Hunter's books. With this one, she goes back to the level of her first.

The characters were the best part of the book: extremely well drawn and the most interesting I've seen in a long time. I loved that Marcus was able to accept that a woman has as much right to behave honorably as any man, and doesn't get angry that Nesta doesn't give up her mission for him. And Nesta was incredible. She was very, very intelligent and very brave; an experienced woman who doesn't make any apologies for what she is (and the way Marcus accepts that, and loves her no matter what really happened... sigh... beautiful!). I really felt for her, torn between the two sides and wanting not to betray either of them.Their love scenes during their truces are very touching. Mind you, I wouldn't have done what they did. I probably would have taken the way out which is mentioned in passing at one point and ran away with Marcus to live a different life apart from all those intrigues. However, I respect the fact that they took a different way and were ready to sacrifice their lives for their honour, all the while trying to figure out how to have both.

My problems were 2. First, I had a sour taste in my mouth in the end, seeing King Edward getting away with rape. It was perfectly realistic, but it made me angry. I hated that Marcus risked his life for a piece of shit like this. Second, just as in The Protector (if I remember correctly. I read this ages ago), the man beats the woman here (not beats her up, I mean wins over her). Yes, in this case it was better for both that he did, because if she had been able to realize all he plans it would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for them to be together, but still... I would like to read one romance where the woman outwits the man, manages to do what she was planning to do all along, and it turns out to be the best for both.

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