Friday, March 9, 2012

Review: To Take This Lord by Cheryl Bolen (4.5 stars, traditional)



Full Description: Amazon

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Thoughts After Reading:
I have been meaning to try another book by Cheryl Bolen ever since I read With His Lady's Assistance three months ago. I don't remember many of the details of With His Lady's Assistance off the top of my head, but I have the general memory of it being very funny and a thoroughly entertaining tale. As a result, To Take This Lord wasn't quite what I was expecting, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. The story is actually pretty much what the description suggests: a fairly gentle love story within the framework of a marriage-of-convenience. The tone felt more or less traditional, although there was some sensual content. My impression of the book improved as I continued through the story, and by the end of the novel I was almost ready to give it 5 stars.

The general plot of the book is nothing new. The hero is a thirty year old widower, who was devastated when he  lost his young and beautiful wife. Ever since her death two years ago, he has become somewhat of a wastrel. He drinks and gambles frequently, instead of giving his children as much attention as he should be. The heroine, meanwhile, is a twenty-three year old spinster who is a family friend. She fell in love with the hero from an early age, but has kept her affection hidden from everyone. The heroine is also a very responsible and maternal woman, and her outspoken comments occasionally put her at odds with the hero. Despite this, the hero eventually comes to the conclusion that a marriage-of-convenience with the heroine would provide the best environment for his children. There are several elements of the novel that detracted form my enjoyment of the story, particularly at the beginning. The writing isn't completely even, and there are far too many references about how everything is being done "for the children" and that the hero "can never love again," etc etc. There was also a secondary romance plot that was absolutely ridiculous, with the hero's brother-in-law completely estranging himself from his wife because he's afraid to lose her in childbirth. Thankfully, these distractions were mostly swept away by the genuine love that develops between the hero and heroine within their marriage. Bolen paints some beautiful scenes where the couple act very much as loving spouses should, including a plot device where the heroine has to nurse the hero back to health. The love builds up over several weeks (months?), and I was happy to see that the physical intimacy was the last aspect of their relationship to develop.The final misunderstanding was actually a bit unusual in my opinion, but I thought it had a solid resolution. It's also worth noting that the hero's character underwent some major changes due to the heroine's support, in a very realistic fashion.

Overall, With His Lady's Assistance wasn't quite the lighthearted romance I had envisioned. It excels, however, at being a poignant and fairly serious love story that included some great character development on the part of the hero.

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