Sir William Christie, ruthless tycoon and notorious ladies’ man, is dead. Now his four grown children have gathered for the reading of his will. What lies in store for stepsiblings Vivienne, Alexander, and twins Gareth and Gwyneth? Stunning challenges that will test their fortitude across a royal empire . . . and lead them to the marvelously passionate adventures of their lives.After reading and loving Carrie Lofty's Song of Seduction, her historical romances have become a "must read" for me. I'm happy to report that I've yet to be disappointed by one of her books. In Flawless, I again love the fact that Lofty uses a different setting, in this case the diamond mining industry in South Africa. This time the setting is used more as background to give the novel historical context and helps to establish that all-important atmosphere. However, perhaps what I enjoyed the most about this novel is Lofty's depiction of the main characters, Miles and Vivienne, even with their flaws and frustrating qualities.
Lady Vivienne Bancroft fled England for New York, hoping to shed the confines of her arranged marriage to unrepentant rogue Miles Durham, Viscount Bancroft—though she never forgot the fiery desire he unleashed with his slightest touch. And when the gambling man arrives on her doorstep for a little sensual revenge for her desertion, he is met with Vivienne’s dilemma: She must earn her father’s inheritance by profitably running a diamond business worth millions in colonial South Africa. Swept together in an exotic undertaking filled with heated passion and hungry temptation, will Vivienne and Miles discover that the marriage vows they once made are the greatest snare—or the most treasured reward?
I really enjoy how Lofty portrays her characters and the fact that they're exciting and yet fit both time and place in both action and manner. Miles and Vivienne are both products of their upbringing and the society of their times. He is the rakish and wastrel son of an English earl, whose upbringing teaches him that no matter his actions a male aristocrat can get away with almost anything. He marries Vivienne for her fortune and a passion that seems to grow with time. However during their marriage, he's very much the aristocrat about town who uses Vivienne's money for gambling and other pleasurable pursuits without compunction or apparent care for her. Tired of it all and caring little for society's judgment, Miles eventually goes too far.
Vivienne on the other hand is the adopted bastard daughter of a self-made man. Born in France, reared in New York and married in London, Vivienne is also a product of her upbringing and the times. Hers is a marriage of convenience that turns into one of passion, but passion is not enough for Vivienne. She needs more from a man. Vivienne wants and needs respectability and safety, and she can find neither of those things with Miles. She also needs a man she can respect and she can't respect Miles, so when he goes too far she leaves him and goes home to New York. But when her father dies and leaves a conditional inheritance in his will Vivienne finds that she will need her husband after all, and Miles ceases the opportunity to solve a few of his problems, most importantly Vivienne and his marriage.
Flawless is a character driven novel with romance as a focus and a background that helps the story along by providing atmosphere, but one that is not as full of historical details as expected. The secondary characters are also helpful, but not truly developed or explored to their fullest. As central characters, Miles and Vivienne are strong and they do carry the novel quite well, with their personal issues as the main conflict, sexual tension that is off the charts and a true passion that manifests itself both internally and externally.
Lofty succeeds in this novel by making two flawed characters, especially that of Miles, understandable and sympathetic to the reader. Vivienne, although easier to understand, can be a bit more frustrating for what may pass as stubbornness and lack of trust, yet she truly reflects her times when it comes to a female's point of view. She is a woman who needs to stand on her own because she doesn't really have any one else to do it for her, (at least that is her initial belief) yet cannot because society won't allow her to do so. Her frustrations feel real in that respect, as do her initial doubts about Miles' supposed change in character.
Having read two of Lofty's previous historical romances I expected a bit more exploration of historical background and further development of some of the more interesting secondary characters, however I enjoyed the romance from beginning to end. Lofty's prose and her approach to a historical romance remains a favorite for me, and without a doubt I look forward to the other books in this series.
Category: Historical Romance
Series: The Christies, Book 1
Publisher/Released: Pocket/September 27, 2011 - Kindle Edition
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