Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4926-2353-3
Historical Romance, 2016
Discovery of Desire is part of the same series as the author’s previous book, In Search of Scandal. There is a linked story line here, but to delve into that, I will end up spoiling the previous book. In fact, reading the synopsis at the back cover of this book will spoil the previous book, so don’t read this review any more or even touch this book if you want to read the previous book completely unspoiled. The spoiler concerns the motivations of the hero of the previous book in wanting to go back to Nepal, so in a way, it can be considered a big spoiler. I will reveal this spoiler in the next paragraph of this review, so this is your last warning.
You’re still here? Alright then. Seth Mayhew, last seen as the brother of the woman who went missing en route to India, is now heading to India to locate her. The hero of the previous book wanted to make this voyage, but you know how it is. The heroine of a previous book always gets pregnant and needs the husband to be by her side 24/7, so here comes Seth. Upon reaching India, Seth meets the translator hired by the hero of the previous book, and that translator is also meeting his future bride, Wilhelmina Adams. Mina is here with her sister to start life anew, hopefully as a wife to a financially stable man, but it is hard for her to concentrate on that translator, Thomas Grant, when Seth is so big and hot and… big.
This book has many of the same strengths and flaws as the previous book, so I’m going to repeat myself here. Still, let me try to keep things interesting.
The author still manages to display some lovely narrative here, and as usual, her chapters in which everyone is happy and in love are very heartfelt, sweet reads, as opposed to being sentimental and unnecessary. She seems to have a good grip on her characters’ feelings and thoughts, too. All this is good.
But like the previous book, this one is marketed as romance amidst adventures in an exotic land, when in truth, the author just sets her main characters to do the same old song and dance. They talk, talk, talk, talk, talk when all I want is to see Seth, marketed as “the ideal explorer”, to go do explorer stuff. Does he love her? Does she love him? Can he be worthy of her when he’s spent all his funds on this trip to India? Why is he a bit chilly towards her, does he still want her after she has confessed her feelings to him? And on and on. There is a subplot of her sister being upset because the man who promised to marry her when she arrived never showed up to claim her, but really, everything is mostly talk and psychoanalysis of the most familiar kind. And when Seth finally boards a ship… it’s to take him back to England. Arrgh! The author brings me all the way to India just to subject me to the motions that could have easily taken place in an English ballroom?
Not to mention, for two books in a row now, there is the unfortunate take home message that the poor missing woman is of lesser priority once the men wanting to locate and rescue her find a hot babe willing to put out to them and, later, marry them. What’s that, she’s in danger? Sorry, the wife is pregnant and about to pop out a brat, send the other guy over to check whether she’s still alive, will you?
Still, things won’t be so bad were not for the author completely overdoing the whole “Seth is a flirt” thing. Seth is always winking. No, really. He is also smiling and grinning all the time, so much so that, at one point, I actually counted him “smiling”, “smiled”, “grinning”, “grinned”, etc four times in two pages. Does he need to keep smiling and grinning again so many times in a short conversation? What, he has some problems with the muscles of his jaw? Oh, and all that winking – it makes him come off as deranged or possibly suffering from some kind of facial tic. If the constant grinning and winking isn’t bad enough, he talks like he’s in a bad Marlboro Man audition. From calling Mina “Minnie” to making clumsy come-ons that are, in the author’s mind, smooth and suave in front of her husband-to-be, poor Seth often resembles a socially awkward moose with facial tics than the sexy hero he is supposed to be. Also, our hero seems to overdo everything. For example, when he laughs, he roars. The poor guy comes off as such a try hard “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!” type, he is just so embarrassing to read about.
He gets better later on when he becomes more secure that Mina will put out to him in the name of love, so he doesn’t have to try so hard to be so smarmy, but the damage is done. I cringe so hard and so often whenever he opens his mouth and acts like a desperate The Bachelorette contestant, especially in the first third or so of the book. I find it perplexing that the author can write so well in other aspects but can horribly overdo her hero’s winking, smiling, leering, hustling thing.
Anyway, Discovery of Desire doesn’t offer much for readers to discover, as it’s the same old thing given a new shiny coat, with some bonus awkwardness in how the missing lady, the catalyst for the hero’s coming to India, becomes more and more of a background thought as he becomes more besotted with the heroine. I’m deducting one oogie for the hero’s over the top facial tics and body language, though.