if not for her very sick father.
She hasn't been back there since she left 4 years ago,
after she found her new husband Hero's secret love letters
and found out from his mistress that he only married her for her father's farm.
So she doesn't understand her now 30y.o. ex-husband's bitterness and anger towards her.
Nor does she appreciate his digs about her current boyfriend in London.
Her sickly father's request that she remarry Hero greatly unnerves her.
But not as much as her consenting to Hero's plans to remarry for the 6-month period her father has left to live,
when they have to pretend to still be in love
and live together like man and wife.
There are so many pitfalls to their temporary marriage, including informing heroine's boyfriend of what's happening.
And keeping their desire for each other in check,
which inevitably soon rages into something both can't control.
A confrontation with Hero's past mistress makes heroine realize that things have not changed and she's a fool once again for hoping for more with Hero, driving her to do the unthinkable.
Is there anything he can do to stop her?
Or is he too late?
I read this Jordan book quickly. It was quite good until the ending. I hate it when things don't get wrapped up well. I especially hate it when major issues that troubled the main characters' romance for years get ignored. Jordan drew me in with the storyline of a divorced couple who didn't have a chance at their first marriage because of complications that we only know from heroine's POV (point of view). She felt deceived by Hero who she thought loved her back, based on how he wooed her since she was 16 & then determinedly married her at 18. Although he wasn't a talker, his behavior and attitude towards her showed he cared for her. Or so she thought. Their wedding seemed to change him for the worse.
----------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details--------------
Before their wedding, Hero was more open about his interest in and caring for heroine. He touched and kissed her but struggled to restrain himself. She believed it was because he wanted to wait for their wedding day. But their wedding day came and went and she was still a virgin. He wouldn't consummate their marriage, despite her desire to. She wasn't assertive and didn't push the issue, believing he was just biding his time. Hero not only became more physically distant but more emotionally closed-off as well, spending more time outdoors to work. He left her alone at home, where his controlling aunt commandeered the kitchen and the running of the household. Heroine was willing to wait for Hero to warm up towards her. But everything came to a halt, when she found his secret stash of passionate love letters and soon followed by his ex-lover gloating to her that they've never stopped their affair and even spent intimate time together on the 1st week of Hero and heroine's marriage when Hero was supposedly away on business.
Heroine left Hero for London immediately without talking to him about all that she now knew. She hid herself there and was in deep despair, having suicidal thoughts. But having a new job helped her have some stability. She eventually moved on and even dated more done a dozen men before she settled for her boss as her boyfriend. She was still a virgin but was seriously contemplating her boyfriend's marriage talk and sleeping with him during their upcoming vacation together.She waited until the allotted time period (about 3.5 years after her wedding date) before she filed for for divorce. She opted to not file an annulment because she didn't want anyone to know that Hero didn't want her enough to not consummate their brief marriage. Their uncontested divorce was finalized only 5 months ago.
Heroine reacted with a mixture of assertive and passive. I liked that she had guts enough to leave Hero after her humiliating and hurtful discoveries. But she was passive in how she did it. She snuck out to leave him and didn't confront him on his deceptions. Granted she was only 18 years old and I think knew herself enough that he could manipulate her emotions with the right words and actions. And, at that point, she couldn't trust herself. Thus, sneaking away and hiding herself in London from him and her father for a time. She didn't trust herself to annul their marriage or divorce him straightaway. Again, she didn't want to deal with Hero talking her out of either one. So she waited the statutory 3-year period until she filed for divorce. However, in the meantime, she was actively pursuing other romantic potential and dated other men. She was a walking contradiction.
Hero was difficult to get to know. I still have a lot of unanswered questions about what he did and why he did it. He was a quiet man who worked hard at his farm and helped take care of heroine's father's land as well. Heroine grew up living next to him yet she didn't seem to know him all that well. She had a crush on him since she was 14 and saw him now and then, when he'd come home from being away at school and the military. Their 2-year courtship until their marriage was quite formal and distant. They didn't spend much time together talking and really getting to know one another. Heroine's perception of their romance was based on her feelings and her assumption that he must feel the same way. His desire to marry her when she's still quite young seemed to show his eagerness to be with her. Yet his leaving her alone sexually, physically, and emotionally during their brief marriage showed the opposite. We got to know his reasons for doing so but it still has me baffled.
-----------------SPOILERS: Don't read below if you don't want to know the book's details---------
Hero was in love with heroine since she was 16 years old and was eager to make her his. But he thought her still too young and inexperienced at 18 and felt guilty for robbing her of her youth. So he was being selfish but yet considerate (?!). Thus, he didn't consummate their marriage even though he wanted to. He was biding his time until he thought she was more ready for him. But we never know what kind of readiness he was looking for because she left him. What we do know is that he sublimated all his passions and hidden longing for her through his unsent love letters to her. The letters she thought was written to his ex-lover was actually written to and for her.
He stopped sleeping with his ex-lover when he fell in love with 16-year-old heroine. But we don't know if he was celibate during his 4-year separation with heroine because heroine cut him off when he was about to say something about his ex-lover. I don't think he slept with ex-lover again but we don't know if he slept with any other woman during their separation. We know that his not the most stalwart proponent of fidelity. Nor was heroine. They both kissed each other passionately, knowing that heroine still had a boyfriend.
He was both jealous and accepting of heroine having dated other men during their 4-year separation. It relieved him that she got some life experience and made her 2nd-chance with him now more acceptable to him. If her life experience was so important to him, why marry her so young? Why marry her and then reject her without telling her why? Why deceive her again 4 years later instead of just honestly telling her he wanted another chance with her? He was still doing his confusing push and pull with her. Openness and honesty in romance were traits he needed to acquire. I also would've liked more discussion and clarification from him about what the extent of his involvement with his ex-lover was since he married heroine. He knew that his ex had made trouble with heroine yet didn't really do anything about it that we know of.
Overall, I believe they have a good chance at a happy future together. Their misunderstandings seemed to be resolved between them, although I was left with some aforementioned questions. Heroine was happy to finally know the truth about how he felt about her. It took some serious circumstances though to get Hero to finally open up to her. I don't think she would've killed herself. She was hurt and angry but not to the point of hopelessness. She was more mature now and had developed some gumption and independence over the last 4 years to face even tougher circumstances. She'd likely fall down the cliff 1st by accident before she'd actually kill herself.
I moderately recommend this book.