After reading, My Darling Caroline and Someone Irresistible, Stolen Charms is a bit of a disappointment. From Adele Ashworth, I’ve come to expect intelligent characters with many redeeming qualities - characters that you can commiserate with; characters that make sense. I found none of this in Stolen Charms.
One of the most fascinating types of heroes are ones who truly and honestly adore women. They love their minds, their bodies, their foibles and idiosyncrasies. Jonathan Drake is such a man.
On the flip side, I love reading about heroines who are daring and bold, who go after what they want and stand up for what they believe in. And initially that is what Natalie Haislett appeared to be - a woman with a backbone.
I started this book with very high expectations. Unfortunately, those expectations were not met. As the story progressed I found Natalie’s character to be rather inconsistent. She would be bold one moment and blushing and flustered the next. Her entire relationship with Jonathan seemed to be one of one upmanship. And what made it worse is that she always lost. Her feelings for Jonathan were as inconsistent as her behavior. Throughout the book he was alternately her enemy and her confidant. For this reader, figuring out where things stood between them was immensely frustrating.
Jonathan was even worse. At least, Natalie showed her confused nature relatively early on. Jonathan was a jerk in the guise of a good guy. I whole heartedly supported him and understood his frustration with Natalie’s behavior up until he got mad at her over something she said and decided then and there that she was going to marry him. Which in and of itself isn’t such a bad thing, but he was looking at it as a punishment. The precise phrase was, “…thinking about owning Natalie in bed and out of it made him smile….” It then goes on to tell how he’d take her to bed and she’d belong to him for the rest of their lives. He would win. Never mind what she wanted and what she thought. What incensed me even more is that this man throughout the book seemed to actually care about Natalie as a person. Had actually seemed fascinated by her thoughts (stupid as they were, on occasion) actually regressed to thinking her reasons for traveling with him of little consequence because she was nothing more than another well bred Englishwoman.
These characters did have some redeeming qualities. Natalie’s entire reason for embarking on the journey from England to France with Jonathan wasn’t mentioned until the end. But once revealed it made clear that she took matters of loyalty very seriously and would go to great lengths to protect those she cares about. Jonathan also established several positive personality traits. He disliked injustice and he frequently made an effort to fix those things he perceived to be wrong.
All in all, Stolen Charms won’t stop me from procuring Ms. Ashworth’s Winter Garden, which features Madeline DuMais, one of the more intriguing and less disappointing characters in Stolen Charms. Madeline, from what this reader saw of her in Stolen Charms is a thoroughly intelligent woman who knows her heart and isn’t in any way afraid to go after what she wants. I hope her story is as well written as My Darling Caroline was and that Stolen Charms proves to be an aberration in Ms. Ashworth’s writing career.