I didn't much care for this book overall. I thought the plot was almost ridiculously predictable; I knew immediately the "blood disease" was poisoning - even before it's revealed that Grant suspects this. I think I knew in the first few chapters who the culprit was, and by the time the reasons behind it are revealed, I really didn't care. There were no surprises here, and nobody in this story whose actions were truly admirable, which made them exceedingly hard to identify with and care about.
I read some good reviews on this book before I bought it, but ultimately failed to see what the hype was all about. The scientific aspects of the story were certainly an interesting sideline, but couldn't really do much to carry a boring and predictable plot. The romance was only just acceptable. There is some good tension building between the hero & heroine, and the love scenes were steamy enough, but I think the author's attempt to portray a friendship between Grant and Gillian before they become lovers was mostly a failure; their relationship was very sexually charged from the beginning, and I didn't get the impression that they would have spent much time together as friends, had they not had a keen sexual interest in each other. That being said, it didn't make much sense for them to continually seek each other out, given that they both had very good reasons to avoid each other altogether. I think the story could have benefited greatly from more external forces that constantly threw them together while they were developing an emotional bond, rather than have them constantly behaving in ways that were apparently against their will, and before they had developed that bond.
Sensuality Rating: R
Not my favorite. The setting is 1850 in Scottland, which I normally really enjoy, but this book's heroine lacked strength of character. The story line is pretty good with some suspense in outcome, but the jealousy of the heroine (Gillian) was enough to turn me off. Although it is more realistic of a true person, I like books with happily ever after. I read because I aspire to see good traits of people magnified. It just makes me happy that way.
That being said, there were other interesting perspectives going on. Arabella was living a form of feminism before its time as she apired to become a doctor. Grant (hero) is performing "electric" experiments which was also unique to this era.
If you're a Ranney fan, it's worth the read, but not (in my opinion)her best.
Not what I expected! I skipped wordy parts of which there are many.
I'm a fan of Karen Ranney but did not like this book at all... (Spoiler Warning!!)
Introduction of Characters:
*Female Protagonist - Gillian Cameron (female companion) Having been ruined by a previous man, Gillian lived in poverty until Grant's doctor happened to come across her one day on the streets and hired her to be his daughter's companion.
*Male Protagonist - Grant Roberson (Earl/scientist) Grant Roberson's brothers have recently died of a "blood disease" and, in light of this, Grant feels the need to marry and produce an heir in case he dies of the blood disease. He decides he wants someone who is not so passionate or clingy..someone who can understand his need to be a scientist so he can be alone with his work (he's trying to discover electricity) so he chooses Arabel
Leanne Huynh (10/31/2007 5:39:03 PM): Arabella Fenton (daughter of his physician).
*Female Antagonist - Arabella Fenton (Grant's fiance and the woman Gillian is companion to) Arabella absolutely adores her medical work..is obsessed with it actually...and just wants to be left alone. She does not want to be married at all.
Hopefully after introducing all those characters to you, you've gained an insight into the storyline. Basically, after learning that he could die of a "blood" disease, Grant states he wants to marry someone, decides on his doctor's daugher, Arabella, whom he has never met but has heard that she loves medical science. He has a laboratory where he experiments with electricity and wants to be left alone for that, so he figures Arabella can do her stuff and he can do his and they don't have to get all tangled up with emotions, passion, etc. Enter Gillian Cameron. Gillian is in her late twenties and has figured that she's basically done with passion, relationships, and such because she is a fallen woman. She is somewhat content that she has food to eat and a roof over her head as Arabella's paid companion.
When Arabella and friends are invited to Grant's estate so that Arabella can become familiar with her new home and family, Gillian catches the eye of the earl because she is more receptive to him than Arabella. From how the author portrays Gillian, it seems to be that Gillian becomes a bit petty and envious of Arabella. She scolds Arabella a couple times about her silent conduct and lack of welcome to Grant, but at the same time, Gillian seems very pretentious. One of the things that draws Grant to Gillian is when she wanders his estate and happens to find his laboratory where he is currently working on an experiment. To me, she hardly seems to act that of a paid companion and this incident just seems like she was looking to find him, even though the author states that Gillian was innocently meandering around. She spends the day with him, they flirt with each other, etc. No wonder she became a fallen woman...
It is in another meeting between Gillian and Arabella that I begin to like Arabella and dislike Gillian more. Although Arabella is made to be the antagonist because, in the end, she is the one who is poisoning people, I don't ever dislike her, but I do dislike Gillian for many reasons. Gillian flirts with Grant, allows him to seduce her (and seduces him too), is envious of Arabella for things she cannot have, scolds Arabella for not being receptive to the earl, and really doesn't try to help Arabella at all. She never seems to care for Arabella at all. She never tries to find why Arabella is the way she is...obsessive compulsive over treating illnesses/wounds. And in the end, it leads to Arabella's tragic death and Gillian's undeserved happy ending with Grant.
Now, I don't expect Gillian to be a saint, but she's not exactly the warm and caring female protagonist I'm used to from Karen Ranney. She's selfish, petty, and jealous. I really love the female protagonist in Ms. Ranney's "After The Kiss", but in this book, Gillian seems more to me like the female characters you are supposed to dislike in romance novels, rather than like.
I felt sorry for Arabella throughout the book. She was molested as a child by the Grant's late father and had to live with that throughout her life. Arabella became obsessed with healing people and wanted to be left alone. There was no one for her to confide in or help her through her early ordeal (even though Gillian was supposed to be that person). She poisoned the earl's blood line basically because of what happened to her when she was younger. She definitely needed help and there was no one that helped her.
I think the characters got mixed up in this book - Gillian should've been the antagonist, whereas Arabella should've been the protagonist.
(On a side note, I initially submitted this review on Amazon.com and it mysteriously disappeared a couple days after it was published on their site..)
I usually enjoy Karen Ranney's Scottish novels but this one is terrible...way too predictable and boring. Grant needs an heir and sight-unseen chooses the doctors daughter, Arabella. He has absolutely no intention of having a real relationship with her just a sexual one to beget heirs...asshole. But it is a good thing as Arabella wants nothing to do with him either (or any man for that matter). She's too absorbed in medical learning and has no interest in feminine pursuits or manners. Her companion, Gillian, however, is a wild child and immediately falls for Grant though to her credit, she does try to resist. Grant, of course, wants her too but with none of the complications of marriage. Yada yada yada. Next!
Lots of well written characters and deeply felt emotions in a style remanicent a Georgette Heyer Regencency novel. Filled with constant reminders of how poorly women were treated just a little over a century ago, their limited options and the consequences of deep emotions.
Another great Ranney novel, well worth the read!