Pros: Strong characters; mystery isn’t as simple as it looks
Cons: What can I say… this isn’t my favorite time period
Rating: 4 out of 5
The year is 1830, and our tale begins in London. Nora Thorngoode’s reputation has been ruined by her painting mentor, who hoped he could force her parents into allowing him to marry her. Her father arranges a quick marriage to Grayson Lowell, who’s suspected of murdering his brother (at least among the gossips) and whose estate has sunk deep into debt. He needs her dowry, and she needs someone who’s willing to marry a woman with a ruined reputation. Each of them expects the worst of the other, and neither is pleased with the situation.
Despite the ill beginning, the pair find themselves hopelessly attracted to each other. The tentative bond growing between them, however, is torn again as the ghosts of past events literally haunt Grayson, sending him deeper into despair and guilt over his brother’s death. Can Nora figure out what really happened before Grayson either goes completely mad or follows his brother to an untimely end? Where do the tales of smugglers and pirates on the shores of the estate fit into things? And why is it that Grayson’s nephew hasn’t spoken since his father’s death?
To be upfront about where I’m coming from, this isn’t my sub-genre of choice. I never found plot points revolving around ruined reputations to be either romantic or interesting. I also don’t tend to be a huge fan of burgeoning romances where the thing keeping the two parties apart is largely a series of misinterpretations and misunderstandings with a hefty dose of pride and spitfire mixed in. I find it gets old after a while.
That said, I know that combination of elements is a popular one, and I think it’s carried off well here. So if you do enjoy that blend, I think you’ll find Allison Chase’s Dark Obsession to be a fine specimen of the genre.
There were several things that appealed to me about this book, and caused me to enjoy it quite a bit despite it not being a genre of particular interest to me. For one, the details are quite good. It’s a very visual story that definitely draws the reader in to its fascinating locales. For another, many of the characters are fun & interesting; Nora’s father is a fantastic personality, and her mother turns out to be quite a card, too. Finally, the mystery surrounding the death of Grayson’s brother turned out to be more complex and far more interesting than I thought it would be. I don’t want to give anything away, but suffice to say it’s definitely worth your time to unravel this tale.
Dark Obsession might not have bowled me over, but for a sub-genre I’m not all that enamored of I enjoyed it quite a bit. Standard adult content warnings: fairly explicit sex scenes between married adults.