And here's an oldie!
Author: Johanna Lindsey
Title: You Belong to Me
Release date: 2nd of August 2011 (first published 1987)
Series: Cardinia’s Royal Family #2
Reading level: FICTION – ADULT: Romance, Historical
Published by: Avon
Pages: 436 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle
In all the world, no man exists who can tame Alexandra Rubilov. A fiery and beautiful free-thinker, Alex's steadfast refusal to marry has frustrated her hapless father. And so he creates a "long-forgotten" agreement and sends his rebellious daughter away, maintaining that Alexandra has been promised since childhood to the handsome, insufferable libertine whom she must now accompany to his homeland to wed.
Dismayed to find himself suddenly engaged, Count Vasili Petroff plans to repulse his unwanted fiancee by acting the perfect cad, unaware that wily Alexandra plans to follow a similar path. But the road to deception is a rocky one and its many unexpected turns can lead two reluctant companions to a most unanticipated destination: that place called passionate love.
I’ve never been a huge historical romance reader. I enjoy them, but I don’t gravitate towards them that much. Except in cases, where the synopsis offers the promise of that specific type of uniquely sweet flavour I would devour, or if it’s a Johanna Lindsay novel. For some reason she has written pretty good historical romance coinciding with my preferred taste. While I have read the first book in the Cardinia royals series, that this story is also part of, and quite liked it, this current one, on the outside, looks humongously promising. BUT, it manages to deceive me with one of the aspects it actually lured me in with: an independent, opinionated and headstrong heroine. It sounds good, but there are always black sheep in the bunch, and Alexandra is it for me.
So what did Alexandra mange to annoy me (and her initially very reluctant intended, the hero of the story, Vasili) with? Well, almost everything, as she turned on the heat for all aspects, that in moderation, would have made me cheer for her. While I applaud her tactics to scare away an unwanted betrothed by presenting herself off as a mannerless wild child without anything resembling feminine behaviour of that time and age, she went overboard. Especially with her acting all loco savage and violent with all women who caught Vasili’s eye. Yes, claiming and protecting her “territory” is absolutely fine and expected, but to physically attack, offend and threaten those women, who hadn’t really, in most cases, even done anything yet, was beyond irritating and off-putting to me.
Her dragging her babies, her horses, with the travelling party, through dangerous conditions, was incredibly irresponsible. She claimed that she was taking care of them with having them come along, but it had the exact opposite effect. Also, by her too stubborn, too selfish, too woe-is-me behaviour during the trip, she endangered every person and animal accompanying her. I did, however, appreciate that she didn’t turn to goo for Vasili and maintained her backbone and uncontrollable character (somewhat), but overall, it was very difficult for me to grow fond of and root for her.
I did, in general, like the hate to love storyline, because, it’s exactly the trope I enjoy reading about, because this actually enables the couple time to get to know each other and develop genuine feelings, instead of BOOM! insta-love! In that sense, I quite loved the story, because the hate part was believable, all the logical reasoning was present. The gradual developing of feelings was a welcome slow burn. I particularly liked their first meeting, with attraction and sparks flying galore, without either of them knowing who the other was. Due to that high quality chemistry, the lack of a satisfying steamy scene was disappointing. I’ve come to expect a lot more from the author, than the underwhelming, out of place (considering the situation), awkward and another compulsory romance element receiving a tick feeling I received from that only one scene in this story.
Compared to Alex, toward whom I had high expectations, Vasili, from whom I wasn’t expecting much, except for being hot and alpha, really surprised me with his maturity, considering the situation. Yes, he was still the arrogant and a mega ultra womanizer I remembered from the first book in the series, but he acted almost decently for a man during that time and with a hurry to get rid of his unwanted fiancé. He put up with Alex’s antics with almost the patience of a parent with an unruly child, to a certain degree of course, and behaved much more reasonably than his intended, trying to maintain some sort of control over the situation. She just lashed out and trashed around on the floor like a baby, not considering who she was inconveniencing or hurting. I was, however, annoyed with his hypocrisy (he could dally around, but if she was promiscuous, then it was an issue – but I’m not surprised considering the time and age of the story, and when it was written) and obsession with her breasts, also, rape threats are never acceptable.
The adventure part is always something I look forward to in historical fiction, if included. There was a bunch of it in this story as well with the travels and perils during it. While caused by unforgivable irresponsibility, I most certainly enjoyed the rescue, the bad guys and one-on-one battles. It was also quite lovely to meet up with the main couple form the previous book again and have a glimpse of how wonderfully things are still progressing.