Okay so I pretty much went into this with high hopes and anticipation. Unfortunately it was a painful infuriating read to get through for the first half of the story. I was sorely tempted a few times to just up and quit this book. It was that bad for me. The storyline had a lot of delicious potential. I love amnesia storylines. But the actual payoff and execution left a lot to be desired for me. There were one too many contrived things that made the characters look silly and flat.
Lord Adam Darshan Lawford has lost his memory after his steamboat explodes and he's stranded in the ocean close to drowning when Miss Mariah Clarke discovers him. Mariah comes up with the ruse of pretending to be his wife in order to get rid of an unwanted aggressive suitor. She lies to him telling him they're married when he wakes up. From there the two start to slowly fall in love and things become more complicated when Adam regains his memory and must return to London and his life as a Duke.
The first half of the book was filled with inconsistencies and silly contrived things that kept popping up left and right. I mean here we have the hero Adam Ashton who has lost his memory and has no recollection of who he is and what has happened to him. All he knows is what Mariah has told him: she’s his wife and she rescued him from dying after being stranded in the shore. He immediately slips from shock and confusion to the perfect loving doting very amorous ‘husband’ within a few pages. Um….how? We get absolutely no page time of him grieving, coming to terms trying to DEAL with what has happened to him, no anger or frustration just complete total gratitude and devotion to Mariah, his lovely perfect wife. Who he wants to sleep with. -_- No matter that she is a complete stranger to him. Seriously? Come on. I’m just asking for a little more room for realism. And oh yes, character growth. We get absolutely none here. Just TOLD what they are thinking, feeling, seeing, saying. I felt no connection to either character. I just felt Putney failed at making these characters come to life they came off incredibly flat. There was no moral conscience when it came to Mariah in the first half of the story who only seemed to care about her and Adam and how she could keep him. She gets news of her father's death and other than a few moments of shock and convulsive swallowing we see NO other reaction out of her. It was bizzare and so out of place. And this lackluster emotional inept or I should say inappropriate reaction happens quite a lot in this book. And it's a pattern I've noticed in some of Putney's other works. Also there was a startling lack of descriptive detail in this. We get a fuzzy rushed physical description of both Adam and Mariah. I really don't like when author's gloss over what the h/hr look like. Adam is dark skinned with startling green eyes and long black hair. Yeah? Well how long
is his hair? What does his face look like? All the infinite character details (physical descriptions and mannerisms) were completely lacking in here. It bugged the crap out of me. Putney only tells us what the characters' eye color and hair color are. I. want. more.
Another thing that I found really absurd was the whole 'possibly married' thing. Mariah keeps wondering if Adam has a wife somewhere and is almost convinced that he’s married at one point yet doesn’t DO A THING about it instead just frets about ‘what ifs’ and how she can’t bare to tell him the truth cause it will ‘tear his last anchor to the real world apart’ or some such nonsense. Um…..HUH? I found that logic so contradictory and contrived. She keeps daydreaming and lusting after him and relying on him one day remembering everything and that will ‘fix’ the problem. No it won’t dearie. I found the whole reasoning behind lying to him and KEEP lying to him to be utter nonsensical bullshit. It was a weak plot point to carry the story on IMO cause it made no sense and made her look like a clueless idiot with no self-awareness whatsoever. What I found really truly disturbing was her willingness to let him continue on believing he was her husband & not revealing the truth if he NEVER regained his memory. She would totally and completely ‘have him’ if he wanted her. And if he had a wife the woman would “accept widowhood and find another husband.” O_o Uh.. excuse me? In what world is this considered acceptable? Even if Adam never got his memory back, he’s not ‘hers’ as she so confidently moons over in her mind (he can’t be YOURS considering you are cheating him out of a life he doesn’t know about you outrageous twit). He deserves to know the truth whether he remembers or not. She didn’t seem the slightest bit conflicted or disturbed by any of this which really bothered me. I struggled to take her seriously because she lacked any kind of conscience or self-awareness to what she was doing acting like what was doing was no big deal. Even if the protagonist's reasoning behind their actions isn’t completely justifiable if they show the decency of being shamed, upset, scared, guilt-ridden then I will and can sympathize with them. Here, Miss I’ve-had-my-share-of-eligible-men-but-I-want-Mr.Amnesia-he’s my-freaking-hero takes the cake and eats it too. It was outrageous how carefree she acted about the whole thing. I get this is a romance novel, suspending belief is usually a given in certain areas but when you have completely hollow emotionless characters with the conscience of a 2 year old it sucks the fun out of reading the story.
And the award for the most ridiculous contrived TSTL frivolous character in this would go to Charles Clarke Townsend, Mariah's empty headed father. You would think I would say Mariah, but oh no her father is much worse. I'm sorry but the whole 'Surprise!!! you have a twin sister!' angle near the end was so campy and unreal and a total 'jumping the shark' moment. You have to suspend belief to even swallow this unnecessary ridiculous silly plot point at the end. It made Mariah's father look like the reckless irresponsible selfish pee brain he is. He kept her away from her mother for her entire
life letting her think her mother died and never bothered to tell her she had a twin sister on top of it. WTH? And the only reasoning we got as to why he did that was because he got into a fight with her mother and stormed out never to return. *crickets*.... Yes cause that makes TOTAL sense to walk away from your wife and young children and drag one of them half way across the continent to live an unstable life living off of his 'earnings' at card games. Come on! That doesn't explain how or why
for that matter he took Mariah away from her mother and sister. I found that so completely inappropriate and ridiculous. It was a very poor and illogical excuse to take her away from a stable home and tote her around the country at his whim and never tell her about her mother or twin sister. And Mariah's reaction to all of this news was even more asinine. Her 'okie dokie' I forgive you, you silly goose! was even more trippy. Um.... NO. That doesn't fly. No one can be THAT forgiving for such ridiculous selfish nonsensical actions and it just made Mariah look like a totally naive fidiot. She laughs the whole thing off like it's some silly joke, teasing her father for being such a 'wretch' for not telling her the truth. Uh HELLO??! Anyone home? The man LIED to you your entire life, kept you AWAY from your mother and made you live on the fringes of society, you had a unstable childhood with no home because of it for no justifiable reason no less you ingnoramous twit. He made them move from home to home so he could gamble and make money for them to barely live off of (and how they managed to live a 'stable' life I will never understand or swallow). How is that any kind of life for a impressionable young girl?? Her high tolerance for acceptance and understanding was just a little too unrealistic and made her look like an empty headed goose. I would have been furious, angry and unbelievably hurt. We got NO emotion from her other than giddy relief and shock. RME. This whole surprise! reveal seem contrived and sloppy cause it made NO freaking sense.
The second half got a little bit better and held my interest. Of course I was hoping for Adam to be enraged and furious at Mariah for lying to him but of course that doesn't happen. *sigh* He's upset and hurt but doesn't shut her out instead invites her and her friend Julia to come along to London with him as his 'guests'. The whole fake 'fiance' back and forth sherade was long drawn out and while I appreciated the tension and angst between the two, I still felt Adam forgave Mariah a little too easily considering she was willing to let him continue on thinking they were husband and wife if his memory never returned. She tells him the truth before he regains his memory but I felt her actions and unattached emotions to the possible repercussions of her lying was unattractive and outrageous. But there was a subtle shift where I started to feel the chemistry and longing between Adam and Mariah that I felt was completely absent and so FORCED in the beginning.
And oh yes! The villain in this was as usual campy, so cliche and a tad contrived for me. I wish Putney would stop it with the cheesey not-scary villains. Adam's Aunt Georgornia is revealed to be the one behind the plot of trying to kill him. And why? Cause of his mixed blood, he's half Hindu and inherited the title of the Duke of Lawford, a title which his Aunt believed belonged to her son Hal, Adam's cousin. Her obvious contempt and hatred for Adam and near desperate outrageous plot to get rid of him is the 'mystery' throughout the book. The thing that didn't make sense was why she schemed to get her daughter Janey betrothed to Adam, someone she clearly disliked. She was trying for years to get rid of him only to try and trap him into a supposed 'betrothal' to her daughter in order to prevent Mariah from becoming the Duchess. That was contradictory and made no sense. You want him dead yet were willing to have your daughter marry him? Pick one.
Anyways, I will say I was intrigued by Adam's friends Will Masterson and Randall in particular. The tension between the icy aloof Randall and Mariah's quiet friend Julia Bencroft especially caught my interest. Julia clearly has a big dark secret and seemed to be running/hiding from an old life she left behind. And Randall seemed to avoid her at all costs. You've caught my attention Putney now give me a story better handled will you? I didn't think I would be interested the in rest of the series but seeing that Putney gave Randall and Julia a story I will read it. With caution and unfortunately low expectations after reading this one. It wasn't a strong start to this series but I am willing to give the next book a try. I'm hoping that Will Masterson and Kirkland also get their own books I'm a little surprised that they haven't.