This wasn't as good as the 2nd book [b:The China Bride|692948|The China Bride (The Bride Trilogy, #2)|Mary Jo Putney|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1177297923s/692948.jpg|3235445]. I was hoping given the interesting premise and heroine I would delve right it into it. The heroine Lady Meriel Grahame hasn't talked for 15 years since the night her parents were killed in a violent ambush in India. She was kidnapped by the rebels who attacked their home and since then never spoke a word to anyone. She's considered 'mad' because of her lack of communication and odd eccentric nature. Dominic Renbourne has promised to take his twin brother's place for a few weeks when he visits his brother's 'bride to be'.
The problem I kept having was not really relating to Meriel. She didn't stand out to me like I was hoping. She just was very uninteresting and a little bit dull as a heroine. I was expecting peculiar and eccentric yes, given what she went through that was granted. But her tendency of zoning out, closing off others and not talking because she wasn’t interested in what they had to say and her complete indifferent careless attitude to certain things got really tiresome, a little annoying and just boring. I got excited going into this because the whole premise of the story was centered around her meeting Dominic who slowly pulls her out of her sheltered guarded world after not speaking for 15 years. It’s the main reason I read this. It had a very Nelle-like theme, child abandoned in the jungle and adapts to growing up and living in the real world as a 'civilized adult'. I was looking forward to seeing Meriel become reacquainted with the world and come out of her shell. The plot of the story and Meriel’s situation was really intriguing and had so much potential of being a great story. Putney's effort was admirable but the actual execution was poor and very one-note. There were parts that definitely could have been pushed and delved deeper. There wasn't that intensity, vivid descriptions to site, sound, setting and characters that were present in Kyle's book. Comparing the two, I found this missing overall. I really wish I could say I loved this and enjoyed as much as I did Kyle’s book but I found it lacking overall. The love story in this wasn’t as exciting or believable for me. Dominic is a total sweetheart with so much heart and charm and patience. I really liked him. I struggled to see the chemistry or I should say feel the chemistry between him and Meriel. She was intrigued by him and attracted and very aggressive in her pursuits of seducing him. Which kind of surprised me and came off a little forced and unrealistic. And so disproportion to the time setting and how she was raised. I just found it so unrealistic with her breezy careless attitude towards sex. It was a total suspending belief moment for me to see her be the persuer and initiate sex with Dominic. For someone who was so incredibly isolated from the world since childhood and had no human contact or understanding of intimacy with a male and terrified of all things male and aggressive she was pretty wild and unabashed. In some ways I could see it making sense but in others....I just didn't really buy it. The two conflicting 'personalities' of hers just didn't click for me. The shy quiet child-like innocence v.s aggressive 'pagan' feral wild woman were such a contrast. I usually enjoying seeing conflicting sides to a character but here it wasn't believable given Meriel's circumstances. She was also incredibly indifferent and apathetic to being seduced or taken advantage of and she KNEW what she was doing. Meriel isn’t crazy or ‘mad’ but her hissing like a cat and biting when she was angry did kind of weird me out a little. Plus her total indifferent careless attitude about sex and using opium as incense to ‘seduce’ Dominic was a little cringeworthy and a turn off for me. Yeah not really romantic. :/
And the 'surprise' twist at the end was kind of predictable and the fallout was underwhelming in how predictable it was. The villain in this for some reason came off contrived and so cliche. I thought that angle could have been handled better as well.
And this is more of a side note but a startling and very confusing mistake which I'm kind of baffled how it was not caught by the editor. Dominic's sister is being courted by a young man who she ends up betrothed to in this story. In the beginning of the book the man who is courting her is named Robert, he's referred to and introduced as Robert, yet half way through the book we have the characters referring to him as Robin. Um...what? And I could be wrong but I remember that her husband in the following book is named Robert. Which is it Putney? Cause the man's name cannot keep changing. Robin and Robert are 2 different names the last time I checked. How no one caught this glaringly obvious error is surprising.
And the situation with Dominic and Kyle was heartbreaking and frustrating at the same time. Kyle especially left me a little poleaxed with this complete shift of behavior in this then in his own book. I shouldn't really say 'shift' considering this happens before his book, but the personality change is quite startling. I loved Kyle in his story and in here we see him struggling with dealing with his own personal grief on his own. I wanted to give him a hug and knock some sense into him in this. His stiff overbearing short-tempered selfish personality did not jive well with me and was such a complete contrast and clash to how he was in his own book [b:The China Bride|692948|The China Bride (The Bride Trilogy, #2)|Mary Jo Putney|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1177297923s/692948.jpg|3235445]. You would think that was a completely different person. And I wasn't so crazy about his side story that played out in here about his much older Hispanic Courtesan dying lover. :/ I just struggled to fall for their 'love story'. I guess the main issue I had was picturing a 18 year old boy fall for a late 30-something year old experienced Courtesan who he keeps as his mistress for 10 years and referring to her as his everything and love of his life. :/ It made my skin crawl. While Constancea was sweet and kind-hearted I wanted better for him. Glad he finds it in his book.