BLOG REVIEW: Seen by Candlelight by Anne Mather

25y.o. textile designer is forced to talk to her ex-husband  of 2 years Hero again, regarding her sister’s scandalous affair with his married brother.
 Or else be alienated by her mother. 
The last time heroine talked to textile-company owner Hero was 4 years ago, when she moved out of their home because she defied his demand that she not work. 
Seeing him again arouses old feelings and it seems mutual. 
But he’s engaged to be married in a few months to another woman. And her boss and friend is once again reminding her of her need to keep moving on from Hero. 
Their respective siblings’ troubled affair, however, places them in continued contact with each other.  
How much will they yield to temptation? How does it affect their relationship with their significant others?

This Mather book was written in the early 70s. The sociocultural factors of that time made Hero's demand that heroine be a pampered housewife and not continue her career as a designer the norm. Yet her desire to have a career and not just be a bored housewife was also becoming a hot marital issue in the 70s. The juxtaposition of these 2 sociocultural factors was probably the most interesting thing in this book. Everything else was mediocre. The cheating potential by engaged Hero and the subversive maneuvers of heroine's boss-friend should've made this book more intriguing. But the writing failed to stimulate my emotions. Mather seemed to cushion these volatile topics with careful wording. And it disappointingly resulted in taking away any intensity or excitement in the book. For example, heroine's boss-friend had some stalkerish thoughts about heroine. I felt a little creepiness just from his obsessive thoughts but heroine's dismissive response to his growing obsession with her dumbed it down to a non-issue.

Heroine wasn't the wisest person. She made some really dumb decisions due to her spitefulness and voluntary ignorance. Her ignoring her boss-friend's obvious romantic interests in her was dumb. It suited her needs for independence yet still being cossetted by a man. She followed her boss-friend's advice regarding her marriage, even about matters that wasn't true about her marriage to Hero. She didn't think twice about why he may have done so but just dismissed it and carried on with her painting and other interests. She allowed her boss-friend to effectively run her life, moving in to the apartment he owned and letting him blur their working relationship. Even when he asked her to marry him a few times, she ignored its obvious implications and was later 'surprised' that he had more than friendship and work-related interests with her. Denial or stupidity? Whatever it was, she used her boss-friend at her convenience and pushed him away when she didn't want him anymore. The pathetic thing was that he allowed it because he wanted whatever she'd give him. When he finally asserted himself later, it was with criminal intent but Hero got there in time to stop him.

Hero wasn't a pushover like heroine's boss-friend. And that's why heroine did her power-play against him. She not only went back to work against his wishes but she got a job from his rival company. It was an 'in your face' move. And then she left him, when he wouldn't accept her wishes to work. We saw her doing this to make a stand about her power in their relationship and not to end their marriage. She was actually just biding time before she went back home to him but her boss-friend planted ideas in her head about why being without Hero was the best thing for her. And it suited her to believe it. Hero was a dominant and, lately, neglectful husband. And he wasn't willing to give her what she wanted (i.e., independence, freedom to pursue her interests, her idea of fun) so she fought back. We don't really know much about Hero  as much as heroine but we later briefly find out that he was broken-hearted by her leaving him and avoiding his attempts to talk to her, driving him to depression and drinking. Too bad it was only briefly mentioned. It could've added to the needed emotional pull to this book. 

What I didn't like about their romance was the convenience aspect of it. Hero and heroine would've continued on happily separated from each other and having forgotten each other, if it wasn't for heroine having to talk to him in person again. Their love for each other was passable and not the intense "I gotta have you" kind that I like. Seeing each other again reminded them of their sex life. It was more physical attraction than anything else. They kissed passionately and Hero didn't feel that bad about having done it, even though he was engaged to another woman. It was only heroine's potentially using it against him that riled him up about it.  Again, this cheating incident was dumbed-down by the tepid way it was written. The ending didn't improve their intensity of their love for each other. It was only middling but this time they both are of the same mind in wanting another shot at their marriage.

I mildly recommend this book.

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