I have to give this book credit for the most inventive title I’ve seen in a long time, along with a very hot cover (yes, OK, I confess – that’s what sold me on this novel!). It was nice to find an unusual story to match the interesting play on words!
Dr. Julian DeButy finds himself wed to the “Beast of Rose Hill”, a rather unfair nickname for a beautiful young woman, who has pretty much been raised by wolves. Well, not exactly wolves, but it might as well have been for all she fits in with the North Carolinian high society and Victorian morals of her grandmother’s world.
Anya Sedley’s parents were lost at sea, leaving little Anya to find a home, substitute parents, and a new morality on a Caribbean island. When finally returned to her grandmother as an adult, she is mostly naked, horribly blatant about her sexual needs, and stunned to find herself married to a man who believes that celibacy is good for the intellect!
Interesting plot twist, isn’t it? I have to admit that I didn’t find Anya very endearing for the first part of this book. Her behavior was obnoxious, arrogant and unpleasant, and I found no mitigating hint of uncertainty beneath the bravado, which might have made me like her more. Of course, this is well matched by Julian’s rather irritating but intelligent priggishness! Watching them both slipping down different paths to end up in the same bed is quite satisfying.
There are some delightful parts of this story, and others which stretch credibility – I doubt that such blatant nudity as Anya displayed would have been tolerated at all, and I also doubt the reception accorded to the ruler of Anya’s Caribbean island, who visits with his entourage. These were times of strict repression and social hierarchy – natives, even royal ones, would probably not have been welcomed into an aristocratic matron’s residence.
So, while the end of the book does degenerate into more of a bedroom farce (although I quite enjoyed it when it did), which strains the reader’s credulity, Anya’s and Julian’s romance is hot enough to light up the pages – it may not be at the top of my re-read list, but is certainly a different kind of historical romance, that I’d recommend to someone looking for a tale with a twist!!