Genre: historical romance / ship
Sex scenes: doesn't hit mild
The death of eighteen-year-old Catriona Balfour’s father just short months after it took away her mother has left Catriona numb. Her parents never resented the fact that she was a girl and their only child, and her father never thought that her lack of a ‘Y’ chromosome meant that she couldn’t be educated to the highest level in astronomy, mathematics and philosophy. She loves the small Scottish village that is her home but her newly orphaned status and almost-penniless state means that she can stay no longer. Fortunately, her Balfour relatives have taken her in, but as Catriona later discovers, this is a mixed blessing.
Along to escort Catriona to Glen Clair is the dashing Neil Sinclair, heir to the Earl of Strathconan and unrepentant rake. He claims to be distantly related to the Balfours but is elusive when it comes to discussion about her newly discovered family. One thing that Catriona does know is that Neil is as sinful as Satan himself and that there is no mistaking his desire for her. When he bluntly asks that she be his mistress and live a life of luxury, Catriona is initially shocked and disgusted, but there really could be no more generous, attentive or attractive man to have to serve. Regardless, Catriona sticks by her morals, turning him down but highly aware of the lifestyle and privileges that she is giving up in doing so. However much she wants to hate Neil and get him out of her mind, the memory of his proposal and the attraction she feels for him makes it impossible.
Life with the Balfours is bleak. Her aunt’s nerves prevent her from ever leaving her bed; the estate is in ruins as a result of her uncle’s incessant drinking; and only Catriona’s sweet cousin Ellen’s cheerful demeanour makes life tolerable during the boring days that she now leads. When Catriona discovers that she’s the true heiress to Glen Clair, her life is put in danger. When she next wakes up, she’s tied up on the bottom of a ship with a similarly captured Neil Sinclair for company. In an extraordinary turn of events, they become shipwrecked on a tiny, uninhabited island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, forced to fend for their lives. Catriona’s reputation is beyond ruined, yet still Neil doesn’t touch her. Will they ever be rescued, and what will be their fate if that ever happens?
Forbidden gave me my first taste of Nicola Cornick and although the two books I’ve read since haven’t nearly matched up to the same standards, I’m not giving up. This was by no means a fantastic story, but the writing style demonstrates Nicola Cornick’s breadth and I need to read more of her work!
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a romance written in first-person, especially such detailed narrative as this. At times, it’s almost like reading a diary and all that’s missing is dates and a ‘Dear Diary’ at the start of each entry. I find it easiest to write in first person, but I’m not the biggest fan of reading it, which makes me the biggest hypocrite ever. It can work well but since it’s not something you come across often in romance, it’s difficult to pin down my feelings for it. I enjoyed the first-hand insight it gave into Catriona’s thoughts and feelings and it certainly made for a change in pace and a break from the norm in the genre.
One of the drawbacks of first person in romance is that you don’t get any direct access to the hero’s brain and what he’s thinking and feeling. I like witnessing how characters evolve over the course of a book and none more so that the hero. In Kidnapped, the first-person narrative meant that all events were filtered through Catriona’s perspective and while this made for entertaining reading at times, it also meant that we were watching what happened with Neil through her biased eyes. That’s not to say that you don’t get bias in third-person written novels, but it’s of a different kind and so you’re better able to form your own opinion on events.
The turn of events in the last phase of the book was entertaining but unnecessary. Its purpose seems simply be to drag the book on another few chapters and while I did enjoy reading it, it’s hard to shrug off the knowledge that the book would have done fine without it.
I’m glad that this wasn’t my introduction into Nicola Cornick; if it had been, I don’t think I would come back. Ms Cornick is guilty of trying to cram too many ‘big’ events into too limited a space with the result that the book seems over-crammed and the reader isn’t quite sure which events are supposed to be most significant in the development of the story. I would have liked some more depth into the Balfour family as well as getting to know Neil a little more, but opportunity for the latter was limited as a result of the first-person. This could have very easily been circumvented through a simple conversation, so unless we happened to skip over these parts of Catriona’s thoughts, we seem to have missed out on what could have been a fantastic character-bonding opportunity.
Not the most encouraging review, but like I said, I've liked enough of Ms Cornick's other works to want more.