Review of THE ITALIAN COUNT'S DEFIANT BRIDE by Catherine George
Harlequin Presents Extra, #2830, June 2009
Alicia Cross fled on her wedding night and vows never to see her husband again, but while she's working at a rugby game, her husband, Italian Count Francesco da Luca, finally tracks her down. He's never forgotten the eighteen-year-old girl he swept off her feet and never stopped regretting losing her. With the ruse that none of the other heirs to his mother's fortune can receive their bequest unless she comes to Italy with him, Francesco persuades Alicia to visit him at his palace. There, he works his seductive magic...and explains what really happened that horrible night.
Author Catherine George has a pleasant writing style and keeps the story moving along as Alicia struggles between the attraction she still feels and her fear of being hurt again. THE ITALIAN COUNT'S DEFIANT BRIDE is highly readable and kept me interested. Definitely not a wall-banger. Still I had some problems that kept me from enjoying this story as much as I'd wanted. First, there is the issue of a mature man seducing an eighteen-year-old. For me, at least, this is gross. Second, the conflict revolves largely around a misunderstanding rather than any inherent characteristics of the protagonists. A simple conversation...ah, that's why you were dressed like that. Ah-ha, that's why you over-reacted, results in the two ready to pick up where they left off. Third, am I the only person who cares that Italy is a Republic and no longer has Counts? (I guess they have them, but they have no legal position. Anyone could call himself a Count if he wanted). Fourth, it's hard to think of these two being so much in love with each other, yet never bothering to make contact in the years they were apart (yes, Francesco visited Alicia's mother once, but he sure took no for an answer quickly, without bothering to track Alicia down to get it face-to-face).
THE ITALIAN COUNT'S DEFIANT BRIDE is enjoyable reading, but it's hard to care much about these characters...and that is a big part of why we read romance.
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