One Week as Lovers by Victoria Dahl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
One Week as Lovers had the serious tone that I like in historical romance, with a tortured hero, and a heroine with enough depth to make for a satisfying read. My favorite aspect of this book, by far, was the hero. I really loved Nick. He was an incredibly sweet, loving guy, and very emotionally strong. I was impressed that he was able to survive such a horrible event in his past, and to become a relatively functional adult. He didn't turn into a hater or user like some men would have, given his background, nor did he become a perpetual victim.
I thought the contrast between Nick and Cynthia was very interesting. Nick should have been the hard, distant, and emotionally unavailable one, but Cynthia was, although what Nick suffered was much worse than what Cynthia endured. At times, Cynthia skirted the unlikeable heroine abyss, and nearly teetered over the edge. I could understand her fierce desire to be in control of her life, but it seemed almost a little selfish and off-putting at times. What redeemed her from being a heroine I did not like was the way she reached out to Nick and accepted his needs and him for who he was, even though what he had gone through might have disgusted some people, although it was not his fault. I liked her pragmatism, although it did come off as abrasive at times. I respected the fact that she wasn't deluded about her shortcomings. I also liked that she came to realize what she had almost turned her back on, and called herself on her actions. If Nick wasn't the steadfast hero that I loved him for being, she might have let a great love walk out of her life for good. Another aspect I appreciated about their relationship was that Nick loved Cynthia for the sometimes grumpy and abrasive person she was. It spoke to me, because that is huge part of loving someone in the real world, accepting them for who they are, good and bad.
I thought that Ms. Dahl did a great job of showing the growing intimacy between Nick and Cynthia, and how their friendship turned into a passionate love. The love scenes are pretty steamy and have an edge because of Nick's emotional issues, but they completely fit this story, and were very well-written.
I was satisfied with Ms. Dahl's ability to convey the Victorian period and to capture the almost gothic, and darker sensibilities of Victorian-set literature. Despite the fact that the cast of characters is very small, and the locations limited, it felt very authentic in the portrayal of Victorian England, and the mores of the characters were realistic.
I think Ms. Dahl is a good writer. I'm not 100% sold on her heroines, if they are all similar to Cynthia. I don't tend to like prickly, abrasive, reckless, and stubborn heroines that much, unless I can get inside their heads and come to understand them. Fortunately, I was able to gain some understanding of Cynthia, and that went a long way towards liking her for me. But I think Victoria Dahl writes a good, readable, emotional romance, so I'd read more of her books. And Nick is definitely a candidate for my favorite heroes list!
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