First off, the blurb:
A SHOCKING SCANDAL. . .
The last thing the Portrait Divorcée needs is to have her name connected to that of the equally infamous Brimstone. But the infuriating rake has made it very clear that he's bent on nothing less than her complete surrender. Rich widows take lovers. Poor divorcées become mistresses. And those with powerful families tread carefully, lest they incite their family's wrath, a tragic outcome she's all too familiar with . . .
IS WELL WORTH THE PLEASURE. . .
Gabriel Angelstone, the handsome scourge of the ton, has taken one of life's lessons to heart: Love ruins everything. But the irresistible challenge of seducing Imogen Mowbray, a woman whose past is every bit as scandalous as his own, quickly has him rethinking that conclusion. Perhaps the only women worth loving are the fallen ones . . .
Let me bullet point my issues with this book:
- Imogen is called The Portrait Divorceé, yet it's not ever explained why she is called this. There is mention that a portrait of her was painted, a rumor that she had an affair with the artist because the portrait was was so good and because of this rumor her politically ambitious husband turfed her down the stairs and divorced her. I was only able to get this information after reading the whole book as it's so scant some tidbits aren't revealed until the last couple chapters.
- The mention of her powerful family is made and yet not much comes of it. There's one scene where Imogen's brother confronts her and threatens her but it's a page at best and then nothing til much later - I expected something much more, but it never came. At least try and cart her off to Australia for fuck's sake! That would've livened it up some. A mention that Imogen's mother wrote her a letter but its contents never revealed. We are told that her family are displeased but the anticipation of a family row never comes and is allover very disappointing.
- Imogen's ex-husband is also something of a dick and I expected a lot more mudslinging and protestations from that camp especially since his new wife is described as waspish and opinionated but alas we are deprived of that until the end and that particular exchange falls a bit flat and clichéd.
- There's a serious lack of dialogue. I never got the feeling that any of these people had any real personality or affection for each other because we never see them speak of it. Everyone talks in their heads - and there's a lot of head hopping even from paragraph to paragraph where I had to read back to make sure I knew who was talking. There's hardly any sparkling exchanges to peak the interest and propel their motivations. If this were acted out on stage it would be the most boring play ever. This was also a critique of her first book, so why didn't she remedy it when writing the second? Ms. Hughes, more dialogue please!
- Since I never got the feeling of any real emotion or regard between Imogen and Gabriel, the sex scenes were dull. It was just sex, and after reading as many romances as I have, that gets boring and pedestrian. I'd rather read erotica for at least there's some shock value. However, even that gets boring after a while.
- I felt this book wasn't really about Imogen, it was George's story. George is the heroine from the first book and she's supposed to be the confidant in this book but her personality is too big and she dominates. Ms Hughes needed to give more limelight to Imogen, as it was her story. Unfortunately, Imogen comes across flat and featureless and more like a leaf caught in the breeze, unable to take any control of these situations herself. She reacts, but never takes action. She cowers and shakes and leaves it up to everyone else.
- Gabriel, we're told, is a notorious rake (.com) who's sexually predatory and blah blah tell tell but never really shows. If anyone needed some spark he did. His only role was to be the sex instructor and protector. Sure it was fine to see him struggle with Imogen's personality flaws - she's shy then brazen then shy hot/cold/hot/cold - Did Ms. Hughes have any idea really how she wanted Imogen to be as a heroine?! She seems to have changed her mind a dozen times. Plus I never found him particularly "infuriating" just a bit impulsive and obsessive. Immature too, but maybe we expect that in a rake of the ton?
- Typos and bad grammar skitter across the pages and flag the book as poor quality.
- Some of the sex scenes made me cringe; (and this may be personal taste on my part but it's my review, so there) When a couple are having passionate kisses there shouldn't be "clashing teeth" or "tongue fencing", and when her orgasm was described as "She simply shattered" I had the mental picture of her bursting into a million dusty particles where Gabriel falls on the bed wondering "Where'd she go?"