Monday, September 11, 2023

Falling for Her Captor by Elisabeth Hobbes


I think this is the third Elisabeth Hobbes medieval romance I've read. It was okay. A little mid. FALLING FOR HER CAPTOR starts out pretty well: the heroine is the sole heir to this big tract of land called the Five Territories, and she has to get married so her grandfather can have the security of knowing who is heirs will be amidst all these feuding lords.

But then, girlfriend gets herself kidnapped.

And her kidnapper decides to garnish his wages with a little rape.

...Until he is hauled off her and murdered by yet another kidnapper, a man with piercing blue eyes who wears all black.

This man is Hugh, cousin to the evil and sadistic Duke, Stephen, who ordered her kidnapping to force her to marry him and take all that sweet, sweet land for himself. It's hinted that Stephen suffered a blow to his prefrontal cortex, which impaired his judgment and emotional regulation, but since it's a medieval romance, they just say "he fell on his head and wasn't right." Must be all those demons that need expunging.

Anyway, suddenly Aline is trapped in this Duke's castle, while he gloats over all the things he's going to do to her as soon as her grandfather signs the papers. And to make matters worse, he knows that Hugh's attracted to her, and she to him, and he takes no shortage of joy in informing her what the punishment for adultery is, which he will absolutely enforce (dude gets blinded and castrated, girl gets a branding iron to the face). Gee, ISN'T MEDIEVAL TIMES FUN, YOU GUYS?

As with the last two books I read, I thought there was a good story under all of this drama. The author is a decent writer, and parts of this book felt like they were hearkening to the bodice-rippers of yore, except Stephen would be the psychotic hero in the 1980s and now he's just the guy who showboats until you hate him enough that you cheer when the hero stabs him to death with a sword. This book had two problems, though: (1) Aline's inconsistent characterization. At first I really liked her. She seemed reasonable and smart. I thought it was cool that she stopped the hero from getting attacked by a wolf with a bow and arrow, channeling her inner Merida. But then she starts acting really stupid. Believing the demonstrably psychotic guy's lies about the guy you like? WHY would you do that? Even Hugh is like, SERIOUSLY? And I'm with him: SERIOUSLY?! It felt like the plot was driving Aline's actions, rather than vice-versa. And (2) this book felt way too long. About one hundred pages too long, actually. A lot of Harlequin novels are at or just under 200 pages and this was like 275. I felt every one of those 275 pages towards the end. The page count felt really dragged out, as did the conclusion.

FALLING FOR HER CAPTOR is a relatively quick and easy read, and falls somewhere in the middle on the How Realistically Awful Is This Portrayal of Medieval Times, where 1 is a Disney movie and 10 is Katherine Deauxville's BLOOD RED ROSES. The heroine might not be wading her way through pillages and plague, but it's clear there are real stakes here, and I appreciated that. 

2.5 out of 5 stars

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