All About Passion, by Stephanie Laurens

>> Thursday, April 01, 2004

All About Passion, by Stephanie Laurens, comes after the six original Cynster books, and stars their friend Chillingsworth, an "honorary Cynster".

"If one is not marrying for love, one may as well marry for something else. My future countess has to be sufficiently docile and endowed with at least passable grace of form, deportment and address."

Fate has made Gyles Rawlings a man determined to control his destiny. He has decided to wed a well-bred lady who will dutifully bear him sons, yet turn a blind eye while he takes his pleasure elsewhere. By all good accounts, Francesca will fit his bill. As for the "elsewhere," he's recently encountered a beautiful, brazen siren who will make a fine mistress, one with a fiery nature to match his own.

But at the altar, Gyles discovers his bride is the bold enchantress who has inspired his deepest fantasies. Finding passion and love in the same woman has long been a secret fear. But as his world is rocked on its axis, Gyles becomes obsessed with possessing the one thing he'd thought he would never want... his wife's heart.
All About Passion definitely had a different flavour than the Cynster books, with a reluctant hero. I'm afraid it didn't work too well for me. A C-.

In part, I admit a good deal of my dislike for the book can be explained by the fact that I had just finished reading Sayers' Gaudy Night when I started this. This meant that I couldn't help comparing certain aspects, and All About Passion was consistently on the losing side. I'd see the way Gyles tried to dictate to Francesca as if she was his dog, not the woman he'd married and the way he refused to "worry" her with her suspicions that someone was trying to kill her, almost as if she was a child. I compared that to the way Peter was terrified by the risks Harriet took but refused to interfere, simply because he respected her, and Gyles looked even more boorish.

Apart from those things, I was soon also fed up and irritated with the way Gyles and Francesca related to each other. I resented Gyles idiotic refusal to realize that it wasn't reasonable to hold on to his first idea of how his marriage was going to work. He didn't even want it to work that way, but since that had been his original plan, he was determined to hold on to it. Typical "cut off your nose to spite your face" behaviour. Jerk.

On the other hand (and, I know, a bit contradictory to what bothered me about Gyles), I resented Francesca for not keeping to the bargain. From the beginning, she received a proposal for a marriage that would be completely of convenience, and from the beginning, her thought was "I'll change his mind". That's not an attitude I respect.

The so-called suspense subplot didn't help. It was all much too obvious. From the very beginning, it was obvious what was going on. Even before the murder attempts started, I knew the person responsible was going to try to kill Francesca, so it made Gyles and her look foolish for not realizing. Very tedious.

Laurens writes well, and I usually enjoy her stories. I'm going to keep reading her, and I'll take care not to do it after an A+ book!


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