Element of Risk by Robyn Donald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
**Disclaimer: This book does involve past adultery between the lead characters. I pretty much hate adultery in romance novels. I avoid those storylines when I can. But this sounded very interesting, and the adultery does seem to fall into the accidental category, if that can be said about marital cheating. One of the reasons I rated this four stars is because Donald takes this novel to deep waters. What you think you know about the characters gets turned on its ear before everything is over. And initially, while one might tend to think of the wife as the victim, you will find out soon that it's not the case at all. Perdita is a strong woman, and I loved seeing that she went from vulnerable teenager to independent, self-actualized mature woman with her own life and her own finances. She goes back to confront Luke and to get acquainted on her own terms, willing to tangle with Luke in order to have the chance to know her children.
I liked this book quite a bit. I think the strength of it was that the author really allowed the reader to walk in Perdita's shoes. That was hugely crucial, considering that she's effectively an adulteress. And while I hate adultery, I couldn't judge her or even Luke for that matter. I'm not saying that I'm sanguine about the situation. But by the end of the book, I had to come to terms with everything. I won't spoil, but the deceased wife definitely doesn't come out of this looking like a martyr or smelling like roses. Luke did annoy me quite a bit, but he grew on me by the end of the book. He was as much as a victim as Perdita was, and he did really care about his children, loved his wife, and much to his chagrin, loved Perdita. There were a lot of ugly words thrown at Perdita, considering that she was underage (at least according to my standards--16-17) when it happened, but she held her own, and Luke wasn't really as much of a b*stard as he could have been (especially by old school Robyn Donald standards).
The dynamic with the twins was interesting, as Perdita got to know them, and they got to know her. The ending was a bit weird with what happens, but that's just me.
I give this four stars because it meets my criteria for a very good Harlequin Presents: well written, angsty, dramatic, likable heroine, intense storyline. I wanted to keep reading and I wasn't in a hurry to finish it. It's a plus that the hero has to admit his love for Perdita fairly sooner than usual in these books.
This is on Kindle (and that's the format I read). It's worth checking out as long as adultery of any kind isn't completely a no-no for a reader. Normally I pass it by, but this was a good book and the adultery wasn't rationalized or dismissed as immaterial.
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