Starcrossed lovers caught in the crossfire of an unfortunate plot.
If you are looking for a ssssteamy romance set in France between a shattered heroine and the damaged man who would eventually help his lady-love mend her heart after the death of her beloved husband, then keep it moving. I bought into the story blurb too, along with the catchy title and the potential for a new series companion to my insomnia. It failed to mention a teeny weeny detail that certainly was important to me and might be to you as well: the hero rapes the heroine. I was convinced the rape (which occurs almost 3/4 thru the book) was some bizarre dream sequence and kept reading until the end only to find out, yeah-no.
Marcelle is a champion winning cyclist living in France who is still trying to recover from the loss of her beloved husband, a fellow sports celebrity. One night she stops at an ATM or post office (unimportant) where she discovers the bullet riddled body of Stefan, one international mercenary and sartorially dashing badass. This very high profile celebrity cyclist-by-day and Florence Nightingale-by-night, who lives alone, takes the bullet-riddled stranger home with her. She then nurses him around the clock, even going so far as to get one of her doctor friend involved. Medical license be damned when Marcelle comes-a-calling because betchya, by golly wow, she’s just so terrific.
Did I mention she was terrific? No? Marcelle. Is. Terrific. The reader will be told this early and often by the nameless cast of characters around her whose only purpose it seems is to remind the reader that Marcelle is as beautiful inside as she is outside. Is it any wonder every single male friend is in love with her? Is it any wonder that her own stepfather would have tried to assault her, forcing her to kill him? Is it any wonder that she then fled South Africa to France after killing her stepfather? And she is quite clever, too–she knows she has to elude the authorities so she hides in plain sight by pretending to be a boy and starts her well publicized cycling career while on the run, where she meets her husband.
Oh, let’s not forget the reconciliation with her real papa once she gets to France and the fact that she is an avid tea drinker (.hmmm mmm). I learned all of this during one of the longest unbroken exposition in written history. We also learn during this War & Peace of expositions that Stefan’s had a hard knock life, which I must confess I’m at a loss to recall with any detail, interest or sobriety. I suppose the Stefan-osition was meant to explain why he would have done Ms. Nightingale wrong.
As the astute Keanu Reeves’ character from Speed said quite famously, and I quote, crap like this does not make for the foundation of a solid relationship.