Thursday, January 24, 2013

Review: Unforgivable by Joanna Chambers

Unforgivable by Joanna Chambers
A notorious rake is about to make the ultimate faux pas—fall in love with his own wife.

Gil Truman has eyes only for the beautiful Tilly—until he is forced to marry plain, sickly Rose Davenport to reclaim the lands his father foolishly gambled away. After a disastrous wedding night tainted with his bitterness, he deposits Rose at his remote Northumbrian estate, soothing his guilt with the thought that she need never lay eyes on him again.

Five years after the mortifying wedding night that destroyed all her romantic fantasies, Rose is fed up with hearing second- and third-hand reports of Gil’s philandering ways. She is no longer the shy, homely girl he left behind, but a strong, confident woman who knows how to run an estate. And knows what she wants—her husband, back in their marriage bed.

Gil doesn’t recognize the bold, flirtatious woman he meets at a ball, with or without her mask. Yet he is bewitched and besotted, and their night together is the most passionate he has ever known.

But when he confesses his sins to the beautiful stranger, the truth rips open the old wounds of their blighted history. Threatening any hope of a future together.
I loved Joanna Chambers' debut novel The Lady's Secret where she managed to give that old cross-dressing heroine trope a new fresh twist, so I looked forward to reading her second foray into historical romance. In Unforgivable Ms. Chambers again tackles a well-known trope, this time it is the marriage of convenience.

Gil Truman's father gambles away the family's lands and properties, forcing Gil to marry the sickly and very young Rose Davenport to save them from ruin. Gil loves Tilly but marries Rose and after a terrible night together bitterly rejects and leaves her at his Northumbrian country estate for five years. During those five years Rose grows from an insecure young lady into a strong, beautiful woman who makes the best out of a raw deal. She is admirable, if too soft and easily forgiving of Gil. Gil, in the meantime, becomes a philanderer known throughout London for his multiple affairs and beautiful mistresses.

Rose wants a real marriage and decides to confront Gil personally in London, but when they first meet at a masked ball and Gil doesn't recognize her, Rose lies about her identity. Gil falls hard for this beautiful woman and the two have a short, passionate affair. Hurt after some truths surface, Rose retreats to the country without telling Gil the truth. Soon after Rose contacts Gil with news that brings him rushing to the country estate where he finds out that the woman he fell in love with was his own lying wife. After five long years, this neglected marriage finally gets a second chance, but can they get over the hurt feelings and bitterness?

I like Joanna Chambers' writing style and hope to enjoy more of her historical novels in the future. As a matter of fact, Unforgivable is a well executed romance. Unfortunately, I couldn't enjoy parts of this romance because of a personal disconnect with the unsympathetic male protagonist that did not change at the end. The female protagonist is portrayed as a woman of strength and a sympathetic, emotionally available character. I connected with her although under the circumstances I found her to be much more forgiving than expected.

Unforgivable is a quick read with excellent flow, and truthfully I read it in one sitting because I wanted to know what Gil was going to pull next. Gil is a superficial fool who initially has valid reasons to be bitter about how things turn out for him but errs by placing the blame on the wrong person, Rose, and unfortunately as the story moves along compounds that error with continuous bitterness and actions that make it tough to sympathize with him. It's interesting because this behavior continues even after he falls in love with Rose! Rose is forgiving and takes too much responsibility for the situation between them, particularly since Gil is pretty much intractable. Frankly Gil is more than a flawed character, he becomes irredeemable almost to the very end.

Unforgivable is a well written historical romance with a sympathetic heroine and what I think of as an "irredeemable" hero. The story is riddled with lots of angst and conflict and a too easy resolution with passion found in the middle of it all.

Category: Historical Romance
Series: None
Publisher/Release Date: Samhain/January 15, 2013
Grade: C+

Visit Joanna Chambers here.

12 comments:

  1. Awww, that's too bad about the book, Hilcia, because based on the blurb, I thought the book had promise! It sounds like Rose should have been a bit harsher with him, bring him to his knees :P But it's good to know that Ms Chambers' writing remains excellent :)

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    1. Nath, I know! I enjoyed the writing from beginning to end and I like how Chambers weaves a historical romance -- her style. I read it in basically one sitting too. It's a matter of disconnect with a character and/or situation. You might be right about Rose -- my personal view is that there is a certain lack of balance in how the situation unfolds between Rose and Gil.

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  2. Aww, it sounds like it's a little disappointing int he end. The plot sounds nice and I love the whole second chance in marriage plot, but yeah, I don't like when the hero's don't really change.

    I have to check The Lady's Secret though!

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    1. Alex, the hero does his thing at the very last minute and pleads for forgiveness. It was just too late for me -- my personal disconnect lasted to the very end. That second chance in marriage plot is one of my favorite plot devices, and I loved the possibilities here of the fusion between that one and the marriage of convenience.

      You should definitely check out The Lady's Secret. It was Chambers' debut novel and a great read!

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  3. Great review Hils! There's such a fine line between as*hat hero and non-as*hat hero :)

    OT - I saw on another blog you might be thinking of reading Falls Chanch Ranch. I read those books late last year and they Blew. Me. Away. I wrote a very long review (which is on my blog or GR). I know it may not be a book that works for everyone, but...it totally spoke to me *beams* If you do end up reading it I look forward to your thoughts :)

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    1. Orannia, his questionable actions just piled on and for a while I had hopes for him. Unfortunately by the end those questionable actions were just too many. He was hard-hearted for too long.

      RE: Falls Chance Ranch. I am definitely going to read the first book. I loved Ames' review. Thank you for adding your recommendation too! I look forward to reading it. :D

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  4. Ohh I knew you were eager to read something more by the author, too bad it didn't measure up...
    *****

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    1. Sonia, her writing measured up. The story I believe is a matter of taste. Unfortunately, the hero was not to mine. :(

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  5. I was totally hooked onto reading this based on the blurb and your first few paragraphs. The fact that the hero remained irredeemable is a huge bummer. I might just read it anyway. .. the plot is just too irresistible!

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    1. Christine, I think it is a great idea that you read the book and make up your own mind. Just because the hero remained irredeemable for me, doesn't mean that he will for you. You know how it is with reading and tastes! Everyone has their own. :D The plot IS quite interesting... I read it in one sitting and it's certainly interesting.

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    2. Well, I read willaful's review at KKB, which was similar in sentiment to yours, so I don't know.. I'll think about it.

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    3. Oh! I haven't read willaful's review... but well, I understand how other readers would have similar feelings to mine. It's a rather touchy situation with the male protagonist that will present a problem for many romance readers.

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