Too Dangerous To Desire
by Alexandra Benedict, historical (2008)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 978-0-06-117047-8


Ideally, you should read Too Scandalous To Wed before you tackle Too Dangerous To Desire but don't worry if you haven't - the author will provide enough information on the hero's background for you to catch up. Personally, I'd recomemnd that you read that book instead of this one, heh.

After producing three historical romantic comedies that work pretty well in varying degrees of success for me, Alexandra Benedict tackles something new for a change. Too Dangerous To Desire is not a romantic comedy, it's a sober romantic drama full of angst and tormented psyche. While I am always reluctant to knock an author's attempt to try her hand at something different, I am afraid that this book doesn't work for me.

If you have read the previous book by this author, you may remember Adam Westmore. He cut short his honeymoon trip with his beloved wife Tess to answer his mother's summon to come home and talk some sense into his always misbehaving brother. During the voyage home, the ship sank and Tess died. Adam blamed his brother for the loss of his childhood sweetheart, best friend, and wife. But that was the previous book. When this story opens, four years have passed since Too Scandalous To Wed. Adam has been mourning his wife for six years now if you have been keeping count. He spends his time by the sea, wanting to be close to Tess, and plotting revenge on the pirate that robbed the ship before it sank. But when he stops a young woman named Evelyn Ware from committing suicide, perhaps he will finally find a reason to move on with life.

Evelyn is a traumatized woman on the run from her monstrous brother-in-law. I think she must have missed a turn somewhere because I'm pretty sure Evelyn is meant for a historical romance by Catherine Anderson. You know what kind of heroine I am referring to, I'm sure. Evelyn jumps at shadows, cries, occasionally tries to be strong only to falter, and comes off some precious and fragile while she's at it. Can she trust Adam? She says yes, because he has "kind" eyes. Now you know why she has an unhappy life. Can Adam love again?

I'm sorry, but I believe I am an evil person. A more understanding person may have patience with these characters and cheer them on as they make tentative steps towards living again, but I frankly find these two a trial on my patience. I find myself wishing that I can sit Evelyn down and tell her sharply to pull herself together and, more importantly, stop being so dramatically stupid like wanting to commit suicide at the slightest possibility that her brother-in-law may be nearby. She can swing an axe like a professional, for example, so I don't understand why she doesn't do that chop-chop thing on that bastard. Oh, how can I forget - violence makes her go "Eeeuw!" Sigh. While I won't mind a show of weakness as long as Evelyn toughens up eventually, here the young lady plays the role of the waif in distress way too much for my liking.

As for Adam, he's so sweet in that he is willing to live with Evelyn if he has knocked her up, but he can't marry her because he wants to be faithful to Tess forever and ever, amen. Maybe he should have thought of that before sticking his body parts into where they do not belong on Evelyn. He and Evelyn try so hard to argue about why they can't head off to America and live together, I can pretty much see the thin straw clutched tightly in their hands.

It's not that this story can't be done right. I understand what the characters are going through. The author also attempts to incorporate an emminently sensible message about letting go of past hatred and making peace with one's demons in order to be happy and move on with life. However, Evelyn's drama is too over-the-top for me. Think Catherine Anderson gone wild and hogging all the lamp shades in house. Instead of having the characters work their issues out in a mature manner, Ms Benedict chooses to have Evelyn posturing melodramatically for the Joan of Arc award while Adam is often way too self-absorbed in his misery to be sympathetic. In other words, these two characters really test my patience too often.

Ah, but that is why I am not a shrink in real life - I'd probably kick a few clients out the door on their rear ends and get my license suspended as a result - and this is also why I try to stay away from sugary swill like Catherine Anderson's traumatic melodramas. You probably beg to differ, so hey, knock yourself out.

Rating: 71


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