MIRA, $6.99, ISBN 1-55166-657-X
Historical Romance, 2003
Secrets of the Heart makes me want to scream.
Michael Trenton proposes to Rachel, or rather he asks her father for her hand in marriage.
She wants to marry for love, so she elopes with a man just before the wedding.
Her father rips her dignity to shreds.
Michael marries her because he loves her, but seeing that she loves that unsuitable man, he decides to give her space.
Because he doesn’t make love to her, she knows that he doesn’t love her and oh, the guilt, oh! She must agree when he suggests an informal separation.
When she agrees to the separation, he knows that she really doesn’t love him and oh, the nobility of sacrifice! He must willingly stay away.
And when he stays away, she knows, she really knows now that he will never love her and she will never be worthy of love again! Oh, the guilt, oh!
Repeat and rinse for seven years.
That’s right: seven years.
My God, where do these two get off acting like tormented martyrs like that? Are they for real? Seven years with no sex, mind you. No wonder people make fun of stupid English people. Even Joan of Arc would be embarrassed for these two, and she died at least after doing some good, for what that’s worth. These two? I despair for them, I really do.
The story that takes place in the present (the above are all told in flashbacks) is this: a strange robbery leads Rachel to learn that her husband is not who he seems. As she pokes into his affairs, she will uncover a grand conspiracy that is actually a pretty good read if the main characters don’t have sawdust for brains. Towards the end, Rachel becomes a little more human while Mike comes off less like a sadistic martyr with a fetish for self-immolation. Still, it’s not enough for me. If the author has changed seven years to just one, maybe, this story will be more palatable and the characters’ often stubborn inertia against communication will be more acceptable.
This book isn’t bad at all, but the stereotypical way the author deals with the main characters’ issues offer little to redeem a cracked plot. Mike and Rachel’s finding love seems like a case of seven years too late rather than a grand love found thing.