Too Dangerous to Desire

Alexandra Benedict
August 2008, European Historical Romance (1820s England)
Avon, $5.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 006117047X
Part of a series

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Warm

Too Dangerous to Desire features two leads with Major Issues and a storyline with fairly strong romantic suspense elements that moves along at a brisk clip. If occasionally those Issues get a little old or the romantic suspense a bit over the top, it still remains a good read.

Evelyn Waye and Adam Westmore meet when he drags her out of the sea from whence she had thrown herself in an attempted suicide. He takes her back to his seaside cottage where, during the next few days, they slowly learn each other's stories.

Evie's sister was sold by her father into marriage to a minor European prince who turned out to be a monster. Through letters, Evie learned about the abuse her sister suffered at her husband's hands and all the horrible things a man can to do a woman. Vadik - or "him" as Evie refers to the prince - has now arranged to buy Eve from her perpetually drunk and broke father, as her stunning beauty is a match to her sister's. Evie would rather die than suffer her sister's fate and almost succeeds until Adam thwarts her plans.

Adam lost his bride in a sea storm as they were returning to England from their honeymoon so that Adam could bail out his perpetually in-trouble brother, the duke. Adam blamed his brother for his wife's death and in his grief tried to kill Damian, gravely wounding him in the process. Adam suffers enormous guilt over the deed and over his failure to save his wife. Rescuing Evie and keeping her safe from "him" may offer some redemption and he vows to protect her.

As you can see, Major Issues abound and these are dealt with realistically. Evie despises her beauty, believes all men to be brutes and is very wary of Adam when he begins to act on his attraction to Evie or shows his anger. How long until he turns that lust or that anger on her? Adam loved his wife and has vowed to remain true to her, and he has done so for six years. He is surprised at his reaction to Evie and his already strong feelings of guilt are exacerbated. And then when he must approach his now-reformed brother for help in protecting Evie, things get very touchy. These Issues are complex and portrayed very well; however, I felt that Evie's fear of Adam and Adam's guilt over falling for Evie lasted too long - almost right unto the end of the book. I would have liked to have seen them work through their Issues together before the ultimate showdown with Vadik.

The Vadik storyline was filled with menace - he is truly creepy - and there are several very dangerous and hair-raising moments that made me feel for what Evie and Adam are going through. Sometimes, though, it was a bit of overkill. The eeee-vilness and suffering described was a bit much at times. And there was a writing quirk in this storyline that pulled me out of the story. Vadik has henchmen and they are always referred in that way: "henchmen." As in, "A henchman" did this, "the henchmen" are over there, "the unconscious henchmen" who are sprawled on the floor, "She recognized the voice a henchman!" It really became giggle-inducing, not Benedict's plan, I'm sure.

But, while there were some problems, Too Dangerous to Desire moves along at a brisk pace, except for a bit of a sagging middle, and kept me engaged throughout with its adventure and touching leads.

-- Cheryl Sneed

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