The central plot of the story is Marc Copeland Garrison's revenge against the Carringtons, who he feels ruined his father's fortune and led the old man to suicide. He is going to ravish Catalina Carrington and then dump her into the dives of Natchez when he's finished with her and get his sweet revenge. Naturally, he falls in love and she does too.
The one word to describe this book is "laborious." OK, two. "Painstaking" is another one. This has been the most minutely-plotted book, romance or anything else, I've read in a long time. After awhile, it got pretty damn tedious. There was a tight cast of characters whose actions always went up to a point where someone else in the cast would take the ball and run down the field for a few yards, then toss it to someone else. Chasing after one another, lying to one another, plotting and planning, etc. Everything was connected, everyone was tied to someone in the past or present. It was deliberate and no-frills, but there was no spark to it at all.
Sommerfield also had 2 quirks that quickly annoyed. There is a LOT of laughing and chuckling in this book, sometimes as many as 3 instances in as many short paragraphs. Usually it's soft, but sometimes she goes out on a limb and has the laughter be angry or just normal volume. The second quirk was the way she set up her scenes. When one scene or chapter ended with one character doing something, the next scene or chapter would begin with another character doing something that would then lead into the previous scene we had just read. This happened about 90% of the time, and in a 496 page book, that's a style that becomes repetitious.
It could have been far shorter, had the completely unnecessary subplot of Catalina's brother Seth been taken out. What I thought would be interesting and connected and first turned utterly superfluous. Seth was utterly pointless to the story beyond serving as the means for Marc to get his hands on the Carrington riverboat. When the bad guy had him thrown into the Mississippi, he should have stayed there. However, he's dragged out by a river rat and her grandfather, and a kind of My Fair Lady story went on that had zero interest. Its resolution, however, was so saccharine that I was expecting a basket of kittens to be on the last page.
For being published in 1987 in what is still generally accepted as the "bodice ripper" era, there really was little grit or shocking moments. Natchez is portrayed as a hellhole (was it really that bad?), but it's a monogamous romance (I'm not too jazzed about those types) and the hero, while being nasty in intent, is hardly brutal in act. It was a "meh" read, and has only put me in the mood for some true bodice-ripping rapine.
This book was tedious! It's top heavy with detail upon detail and frankly, too many characters - the plot is weighed down by them. Unfortunately, the heroine Catalina is as shallow as a lake in the Sahara. She has no reason for being, except to be beautiful-looking; she has no personality. I think that annoyed me most of all. Nothing kills a book like a blah heroine. The plot COULD have been good - I love a revenge plot that turns into a love story - but the main characters, Marc and Catalina are so wooden, and they behave so predictably, that their love doesn't resonate. The love scenes aren't sensual. Marc's revenge and the reasons behind it, are resolved too tidily for belief. All in all, I regret wasting my time with this book.
When dashing Marc Copeland won the Southern Belle from her brother in a card game, innocent Catlina Carrington was confident she could buy the riverboat back from the debonair gambler. But when the arrogant cad named his price--3 days as his mistress--the sumptuous beauty's fury knew no bounds. She vehemently swore she'd never meet his terms..but even as she protested, Catalina couldn't slow her racing pulse nor calm her breathless gasps nor still her romantic heart imagining the sensual splendor she could have were she to relent to the ebon-haired scoundrel!
The moment virile Marc saw curvacious Catalina, he knew exactly what the next step would be in his long-planned downfall of the Carringtons: to seduce the golden-eyed chit, then toss her out w/ her reputation in shreds. But as he stroked her hip-length tresses & boldly traced her lush ripe form, the insolent male thought less of ruining her & more of ravishing her. On the morrow there'd be time aplenty for revenge. Tonight he would reap the rewards at hand & glory in the passionate pleasures & ecstatic delights of CATLINA'S CARESS.