Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4165-9263-1
Historical Romance, 2009
When Meredith Duran made her debut with The Duke of Shadows just last year, I thought it was okay, but yikes, it seemed like the rest of the online world then liked it so much more. Poor Ms Duran has a lot of expectations to live up to, and in my opinion, Bound by Your Touch manages to only succeed halfway in doing so.
This is one of those stories with a “just go with a flow” plot, where an event happens often as a reaction of an event preceding it, so it is quite tough to give a coherent synopsis of the story. But still, let me try.
We have Lydia Boyce, a brilliant scholar who could have earned the same respect and admiration as her father Harry, the famous Egyptologist, did were she not a woman. One day, as she is trying to give a talk during a meeting designed to solicit funding for her father’s latest activities in Egypt, the meeting is completely hijacked by James Durham, Viscount Sanburne. Then again, it’s easy to lose the attention of the audience when nearly all of them aren’t paying her any attention in the first place. James thinks he has a good artifact to rub his Egyptology-inclined father’s nose in, but Lydia soon exposes the artifact as a fake, much to the glee of James’s father.
Annoyed, James soon discovers a link between Lydia’s father and the fake item he ended up buying, and he suspects that Lydia, her father, and his father must have conspired against him. Never mind that such conspiracy would require a great degree of psychic powers on the part of the players involved in the first place, James would stick to Lydia and get to the bottom of this. Meanwhile, Lydia is concerned when she learns from James that her father may have sent fakes back to England – clearly, this is a mistake and she must get to the bottom of such a mystery immediately.
Meredith Duran’s Bound by Your Touch is one of those really tough books to write a review on, because it’s actually a good read, but at the same time, it doesn’t engage my emotions. As a result, I have a hard time mustering up either enthusiasm or disappointment for this book.
A reason for this could be that, for a story that is supposed to be about a duel of wits, Lydia comes out the loser every time. Lydia’s jabs, no matter how accurate, bounce off James’s hide without making much of a dent because that guy is way too self-absorbed to care. Therefore, it is tiring after a while to see how Lydia just flails and hacks away at James without success, only to be flustered in return the moment James opens his mouth. It is also disappointing that Lydia, for all her vaunted intelligence, devotes every waking minute and every breath she takes to pointless hero worship of a negligent father and thankless martyrdom to relatives that don’t bother to treat her nicely.
It’s pretty obvious to me from early on that Lydia is going to be very wrong about everything she is so confident in being right about, and her house of cards falls down only late in the story. Therefore, I spend much of my time waiting for the inevitable to happen. It’s the same with James – he is so self-absorbed and so useless, yet so confident that he is right when it’s so obvious that he is wrong. When he finally gets what is coming to him, I can only wonder why it has taken so long for the other shoe to drop.
In Bound by Your Touch, therefore, we have two immature and self-absorbed kids who are so confident in how right they are about everything taking their own sweet time to learn that they are wrong. That’s nice, really, but I can watch daytime talk shows for the same kind of moral lesson. How about a story that is a little less obvious the next time around when it comes to the lessons that the characters will eventually learn?