This book has a 4.0 average rating with the people on my friends list, and if you're friends with me, you know how high a value I place on your opinions. You guys had nothing but good things to say about THE HIGHWAYMAN with your talk of tortured heroes and dark romance. Music to my twisted ears. Plus, Elizabeth Hoyt's DUKE OF SIN is one of the recommended books for HIGHWAY, which I absolutely loved. How could this possibly not work out?
This book is about Farah Leigh Mackenzie and Dorian Blackwell. Farah is an orphan, and a widow. She married her childhood friend in secret, only to see him carried off to certain death for avenging her honor. Dorian Blackwell knew her childhood friend, Dougan, in prison, and claims that he is now dead. He kidnaps her, macks on her in the bathtub, and then - while she's naked - proposes marriage.
*cue eyeroll here*
There were some things about this book that I liked. I liked the idea behind this book. I love stories where the hero and heroine have a dark connection. I also thought that the climax of this book, which took place during that court scene, was incredibly well done and oh-so-dramatic.
I thought Farah was a Mary Sue. She's so kind and pretty and good, and everyone loves her instantly (except for those evil people who hate her, and that's how you know they're evil). She "cures" the hero of all his twauma with her magical virgin vag, which had me rolling my eyes in earnest. I appreciate that she had enough knowledge of the act to make things work, but I didn't understand why she had to be a virgin. Virginal widow tropes are kind of a peeve of mine...
Dorian, I was torn about. In the beginning of the story, he has a lot of promise as an antihero. But the author doesn't commit to his character. She wants him to be dark and terrifying and rapey, but also weak and sympathetic and damaged. I suppose it is possible to combine those two different sets of personality types, but it is not done well here. I also didn't like that the hero takes his pain out on Farah, even committing sexual overtures that border on rape when he's angry. Yeah, no.
Also, the sex didn't work for me in this book. Something about the writing style got on my nerves. It kind of reminded me of the 90s romances, where bodice rippers from the 70s and 80s started to become "gentler." So heroes became less rapey - at least overtly - and sex scenes got very floral and gag-inducingly tender. It was similar here, except Byrne wasn't afraid to drop the f-bomb.
THE HIGHWAYMAN didn't work for me, and I'm not sure if it's just a matter of this book hitting a couple of my pet peeves and not working, or if it was just overhyped and my expectations were just too high. You may love it. I just got a copy of THE HIGHLANDER, also by this author, from Netgalley, so I'm hoping that I'll enjoy the third book in this series more than the first one.
1.5 out of 5 stars.