THE DARK AFFAIR
A Novel of Mad Passions Book 3
by Máire Claremont
Signet/The Penguin Group (March 4, 2014)
e-book/Mass Market Paperback 336 Pages
E-Galley provided by publisher via NetGalley.com for review purposes. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own unless otherwise noted
The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor …
Lady Margaret Cassidy left a life of nobility behind in Ireland, forsaking her grieving homeland to aid war-ravaged men in England. Still, she never expected a cruel turn of fate to lock her into an unwanted betrothal with one of her English patients—much less one as broken and dangerous as Viscount Powers.
Wrecked by his tragic past, Powers’ opiate-addled sanity hangs precariously in the balance, leaving him poised to destroy anyone who dares to utter the names of the wife and child he still so deeply mourns. So when he is forced to marry Margaret in exchange for freedom, he is shocked by the desire to earn her trust, her body, and—most alarming of all—her heart . www.marieclaremont.com
The first half of this book was an idea wrapped in a romance, a work of art, a work of social conscience as well as fiction. The intensity which starts the book off wanes in the second half with the books becoming sentimental as the characters overcome addiction and the thick armor of pain. In the last quarter, the story rushes to a finish, but tries to pull back to the depth of writing I saw at the beginning.
I really loved the book throughout, but I recognize that it turned to sentimentality. I feel what happened was the writer got caught up in the story of Ireland and the troubles; the terrible cost of the British arrogance, but she was writing a romance novel. The writer was going in a direction that didn’t really align with the genre and she had to bring it back around to make a romantic happy ending. It makes the issue of addiction and recovery too simple, too quick and too easy. And it couldn’t offer a solution to the troubles.
As the story began, I thought the book was a paranormal, because of James,’ the Viscount’s, confusion. His character is so hard to like, and Margaret’s character is so sympathetic. He is so deep in his addiction, she is so sure she can help. The writer puts her into a situation that is hard to understand, and hard to get out of without compromising something. The issues of Ireland are not trivialized, and the ending points out that violence would never be the solution to the problems there. I read a lot of Irish literature, Victorian through the contemporary writings of the 1970’s, and I think she has her facts well researched and really brings in the emotional price of Irish history.
There are times when the writing in this book is fantastic, it’s “literature.” And it’s too bad it was hampered by the constraints of genre; I felt the writer had something to say that just didn’t fit in a “romance novel.”
At one point the aristocrats are taken to a soup kitchen for Irish immigrants. The lords learn how arrogant they are, despite their best intentions as they serve the hungry people — people who realize a bowl of soup is better than what was being served in Ireland. It brought to mind a phrase I read in a book a while back that I like to keep in mind: Enough is as good as a feast. Seven words with so much meaning.
I’m not saying the book is not a great read. I enjoyed it, but I felt it had more to say that couldn’t fit into the one book, the one story. I would love to see more from her.
Weird, and it is a complete coincidence, that I read and review two books with Irish characters in the same week as Saint Patrick’s Day? Hmmmm~At Amazon