A Vengeful Passion by Lynne Graham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lynne Graham excels in getting the reader's juices flowing, particularly in her older books. I pulled this one off the pile as part of my Harlequin Presents Binge because I knew I'd get something cathartic. I wasn't disappointed.
I liked the fact that Vito is quite sympathetic. He is actually a nice guy, although he does tend to want things his way. He did and said things the wrong way to Ashley, but He had no idea about how traumatic her upbringing was. So I can't really hold that against him.
Even though Ashley was hard to get along with, I liked that about her. I get tired of the heroine who is the hero's dumpbucket, there to be kicked around except for in bed. Ashley isn't shy about standing up for herself or telling Vito what for. Her aggressiveness about certain topics is 100% linked to her past, and I think that if she had felt free to open up, I don't think they would have broken up in the first place.
I think Ashley is definitely one of Graham's most tortured heroines, despite her flaws. Frankly, her homelife sucked, and the abandonment she faced by her family was lousy. Because of her parents highly dysfunctional marriage and her father's abuse (both mental/emotional and at times physical), she has a low opinion of marriage and any sort of commitment, and she was raised to disdain anything feminine. I like to think that Vito could have been the family she lacked, if he had been given full disclosure on her past. Instead, he thought the worst of her instead of digging to the deeper issues beneath her posturing. He took her aversion to commitment and marriage as a sign of a moral failing in her, instead of a sign of emotional scars. They missed out on three years together as a result.
While Ashley is still argumentative and abrasive, she genuinely loved Vito and was heartbroken about their breakup and a loss she suffers shortly thereafter. She has the time to revisit her past strong opinions about marriage and family, realizing a lot of them weren't her own. But now Vito has cast her in the role of heartless jade, although he never got over her. I like that Vito still went after her, even though he thought the worst of her and knew she could hurt him. It showed that his love for her hadn't died. And this time, he wasn't going to settle for a non-committed sexual relationship. He wanted marriage, as he had before, and he wasn't afraid to blackmail to get it this time around.
There is a lot of tension, both sexual and relationship, and plenty of drama in this book. I don't know if I ever read this back in the day. I didn't own it, and I think I would have remembered if it had read it. The feels like Classic Lynne Graham and is worth having in the collection of serious fans of hers.
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