The Dark Side of Desire by Michelle Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It seems as though I automatically reach for the really intense and dramatic Harlequin Presents books when I need to escape in a book. "The Dark Side of Desire" is definitely a book of that caliber.
Rebecca and Jay learn that you can only run from a painful past for so long. Rebecca had excellent reasons for leaving the small village she'd lived her whole life, the man who she adored so much. She was driven away by ugly lies and collusions of people who didn't want her and Jay to be together. She worked hard to raise a healthy, happy son and build a life for herself, determined never to look back. Until she sees an announcement that her mother is sick and they are looking for her in the paper. Reluctantly, she returns, and Jay is there at the train station waiting for her. Like a living nightmare, every intense emotion and memory comes back to her. She believes she hates him, and in her mind has plenty of reason to do so, but that intense love of her youth had never died.
To her surprise, Jay seems to hate her just as much, but he's also still very much obsessed with her, and from the beginning, seems to want her back. But for Rebecca, there is too much water under the bridge, especially when Jay believes something really horrible about her. And then he finds out about their son. Wow, Jay's reaction packed a punch. I don't like secret baby books much, because I don't like the idea of the hero not knowing he has a child so long. In this case, I don't blame the heroine because of the circumstances. But that is probably one of the most memorable reactions I've read thus far.
This book is super intense and passionate and emotional. You can't help but feel for both Rebecca and Jay. Jay really has this powerful hate/love thing going for Rebecca. I didn't like when he slapped her, but otherwise, I think he mostly treated her very well (other than a couple of nasty things he says to her). He was definitely obsessed with Rebecca. It makes you wonder how he managed to stay away from her for ten long years. Jay had a way of using his sexuality to affect/manipulate Rebecca. I guess on one level that is a pet peeve of mine (I don't like manipulative characters/people), but it didn't bother as much because it's obvious how deeply in love and susceptible to Rebecca he was.
I was kind of iffy about him seducing a sixteen-year-old as a twenty-three year old. I know the age of consent is lower in Europe and there are plenty of teens having sex in the US, but it still made me cringe. I think it helps that Rebecca seemed mature for her age, but still.
I liked how much Kit, their son was in the book. I think anytime a book is about a family with kids, the kids should have a significant role in the book. I don't believe in making children plot points in a story.
I liked how Rebecca had to face her mother and learn to forgive her mother for something that she did that was very wrong. It wasn't as hard as one would expect, because Rebecca had always wanted to have a close relationship with her mother, but her mother was old fashioned and chained by her antiquated societal beliefs. It was good to see them mend fences.
I liked the way the supposed OW was dealt with, especially her poisonous lies and character assassination of Rebecca. While Jay's father wasn't alive to deal with his part in the situation, I think that otherwise, the past situation was laid to rest in a satisfactory way.
In my mind, this is classic Michelle Reid. An emotionally intense and passionate read that sucks you in. There is nothing tepid about the rocky and passionate relationship between Rebecca and Jay, and for a good escapist read, I wouldn't have it any other way.
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