Monday, March 28, 2016

Somewhere I'll Find You by Lisa Kleypas

Lisa Kleypas's Gamblers series was what got me into romance. I used to avoid the genre at all costs until some friends held a sort of mini-intervention and gave me a list of good historical romance authors to check out. I took to the genre like a moth to light - and Lisa Kleypas was, by far, one of my favorites.

Which is why it kills me to give this a low rating.

Julia Hargate and Damon Savage were engaged as children at the insistence of their overly involved and aggressive parents. What their parents didn't count on, however, was the fact that both their stubborn and spirited children would rebel against the match. Julia, in particular, decided to take to the stage and became a talented and highly celebrated actress, under the name (Mrs.) Jessica Wentworth.

I'm a huge fan of the mistaken identity/secret identity trope, so I was delighted when Damon and Julia feel an instant attraction in the prologue, despite neither of them knowing the other's identity. When Julia encounters him again several years later, she realizes that Damon is her husband, Lord Savage, and attempts to avoid him at all costs, while Damon, on the other hand, is oblivious, remembering her only as the girl he met at a May Day celebration several years ago.

Kleypas's secondary characters are usually highly developed, but I felt that the characters in SOMEWHERE I'LL FIND YOU - with the exception of Julia's parents - were one-dimensional. Alyssa, Julia's friend, is a terrible person, and in the second half of the book indirectly causes her friend to almost be raped. Pauline, the mistress, is a hyper-sexualized woman whose sole purpose seems to be to showcase Julia's purity and goodness. William, Damon's brother, jerks women around like toys on a string.

And Damon -

Until the second half of the book, I actually liked him quite a bit. The sex scenes were steamy, and there was a lot of attraction between Damon and Julia. But then Damon becomes really, really possessive in a really, really uncomfortable way. Julia is almost raped - twice - by two "lords" who claim to be fans of hers, and saved - both times - by Damon, who tells her during the second time that it's basically her fault for almost being raped because she's an actress.

Damon then forces himself on her - twice. The first time, Julia cries during and then convinces herself that she wants it. The second time, after Damon finds out that Julia wants to marry her theater director, Logan Scott, he hires two men to abduct her and then tries to rape her while she's crying. After they have sex, Julia tells him that she enjoys being abducted(!) and cancels her engagement to Scott and agrees to marry Damon instead.

The pretext for their "we mustn't be together" dilemma is that Julia doesn't want to leave the stage, and Damon is trying to force her to. Julia also doesn't want to be forced into a marriage she isn't even sure she wants, since she hadn't exactly agreed to it in the first place. Damon keeps saying that he loves her, but everything that he does says otherwise. And while I'm a fan of alphahole heroes as much as the next girl, I really don't like it when their bad actions are rationalized as "being driven mad by love" because that isn't love.

Lisa Kleypas is a wonderful historical romance, and I highly recommend her Gamblers series to anyone who's looking for a sexy, clever, and slightly angsty romance series to sink their teeth into. I can't say the same thing about the Capital Theatre series - at least not yet. Maybe the next series will be better...although if it's about Savage's brother, William, it might also be worse.

2 to 2.5 out of 5 stars.

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