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The count, her contractual husband, cruelly tramples her feelings…

Christina, dressed in her bridal gown, prepares herself to walk down the aisle. Even though she and the groom, Max, are marrying for reasons other than love, she is still holding out hope. However, on her wedding day to the count, she receives a message from him that he’ll be waiting for her in Italy! Not willing to give up hope for their future, Christina heads for his castle, only to be met with even more cruel treatment!

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2.5 Defiant? Scandalous? Where? 3  3

The whole story didn’t excite me, but rather left a bitter taste in my mouth. There was so little development in communication and common sense. At first, I tried reason with how the book’s timeline is set at least a century from present day, where the development of relationships between the opposite sex in holy matrimony is different from today. However, I realized the issue was actually how there that wasn’t much in “trying” to make a relationship, which is a valued marriage concept that has lasted through the ages. In the beginning, the heroine is seen by the hero as she swims in her underclothes. In their society’s eye, it means he’s practically seen her naked. She runs backs home and later sees the same man in her home’s drawing room with her parents looking pale. This little introduction is how the heroine finds out her parents are actually her maternal aunt & uncle who adopted her after her mother’s death. And how her Italian noble father was so aggrieved by his wife’s passing that he abandoned the heroine to his mother. Now, the only way her parents were able to raise the heroine was if they agreed to the grandmother’s condition that the heroine and visiting gentleman/hero would marry. The heroine pulls the progressive move of “refusing”, which only makes her parents’ faces go ash. It turns out they were having financial troubles and the stepmother sent them funds. Therefore, if the heroine were to refuse then they would demand back the money plus interest. This would drive the heroine’s family into bankruptcy if not debtor’s prison. The hero is the one who tells her this, adding in how this is only a convenient marriage in order to stand against the Bourgeoisie/modernizing society. From what I learned in my amateur search, it was basically the middle class was trying to one up on the noble class. However, the price was exploiting the lower class. The guy has basically dashed the heroine’s hopes of a loving marriage into being used as a political pawn and here’s the spoiler revealed at the end: he’s dreaming about being with her for over a decade!!! It turns out this guy met the heroine when she was a baby and he a little boy. He had already lived a hard life and seeing her innocent cherub face gave him warmth. So, imagine his devastation when he lost his little angel and has been waiting patiently to have her once again in his arms. Yet, he didn’t take the opportunity of time to be with her. Here’s what happened: the heroine caved to the marriage (naturally) but the hero didn’t even come to their wedding. Instead, he sent his lawyer as a representative and thus, humiliating the heroine. Although, both the heroine & I let it go when we learned out the man rushed back to Italy upon receiving word that the grandmother had suddenly taken ill. So, the heroine travels all the way to Italy without learning a word of Italian. The hero introduces her to the grandmother and both women hit it off. Next, the man leaves her completely alone with the grandmother for days/or weeks, I’m not entirely sure. After that, he takes the heroine to their wedding reception where the heroine meets an array of individuals like the hero’s childhood snobby little OW-friend. I mean the way the woman speaks in Italian right front of the heroine is so rude and nobody pulled her aside to lecture her on manners like the hero. In fact, a half of the night is the hero staying by the OW’s and then driving her back home as a gentleman and leaving the heroine all alone AGAIN! I mean there were other gentlemen that were close to the OW. It’s no wonder the heroine starts believing the two are involved, especially when she witnesses the garden incident. But what is she to do when she’s only an 18-year old girl living in a foreign country with no friends? She hangs out with the grandmother, playing her violin and bringing joy to the mansion. Yet, she never takes the initiative to fight like asking the grandmother to teach her the Italian language or engage the hero to walk the gardens with her that would spark conversation and relationship development. The hero is no different, he was always busy with work, not rubbing two brain cells together about by wondering how the heroine must feel adjusting to a different culture and language!!!! To not have friends her age or taking the opportunity to spend personal time with her. I mean neither person is fighting for the other’s time. Later, the heroine witnesses the whole garden incident and asks the grandmother about the origin of their marriage. Grandma relates how hero’s predecessors were of poor character. Their behavior led her to be hard on the hero as a boy to make sure he didn’t turn out like that. Now, she regrets her past methods and gives the heroine an opportunity of staying at her birth home. The heroine decides to use this opportunity to separate from the hero. The hero being the fool follows her wishes with the only condition that he comes over whenever he wants. The man isn’t even making a stand in asking why she wants to be there. Nor trying to figure out why she would want to separate. It’s not until after some time spent separated does the hero see a difference. He’s looking at the heroine glowing and brightly smiling at other people is when the he finally sees there’s a difference. Now, instead of asking the heroine, talking to the servants, or even his grandmother about the heroine’s behavior whilst at their family home. He concludes he’s source of the heroine’s unhappiness (he’s not entirely off) and should annual their marriage to free her since they haven’t even consummated their marriage(there’s the misunderstanding). This is where I was really disappointed in the hero who has been desiring to be with the heroine for a long time but he’s throwing in the towel when a problem arises. He’s not fighting for her hand or proving his worth. He only tells her his divorce intentions after they survive a mysterious fire. The heroine finally shows some fight by declaring if she’s free to go anywhere then she wants to continually stay by the man’s side. They finally consummate their marriage and by the next morning, their gentleman friend along with OW looking scared come by. The OW confesses she started the fire by accident, trying to pull a prank on the heroine to scare her away. It was a malicious ploy was to snatch the hero. She scared a stable boy who dropped his lamp and we get the domino effect ending with a burnt mansion. She begs for the heroine’s forgiveness and the heroine does since nobody was hurt. The OW & gentleman go off to get married. In the end, the hero and heroine redo their wedding right and it’s supposed to be a happy ending. However, the plot of little communication and rigor in building a relationship was a real bummer for me

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