I received an ARC of this book from Wolf Publishing. It’s part of The Dubutante Dares’ series, and finally tells the story of Edmund and Katherine. I’ve given the book only 4 stars because, while I thoroughly enjoyed the writing, I found parts of the plot and actions of the characters absolutely infuriating. Christiana (step-mother of Edmund and Jane) was incredibly annoying in A Dare Too Far, but in this story, she steps it up to a whole new level. In fact, the prologue, during which we are introduced to Christiana and Thomas, as well as Edmund and Katherine had me ready to pull my hair out. I could not have imagined more self-aborbed and self-centered characters than Christiana and Thomas, but I think it was Edmund’s tendency to make excuses for his father and Katherine’s tendency to coddle her sister that pushed me to my limits. It was difficult for me to have any respect for any of them—Christiana was self-centered, Thomas was self-entitled, Katherine was a doormat, and Edmund was helpless. Really, both Edmund and Katherine allowed themselves to be victims, and I find it difficult to feel compassion for people who refuse to stand up for themselves. I like strong heroes.
So, from the start, I had a problem. I didn’t like the characters. However, I reminded myself that I had liked them in the previous book, so I decided to give them a chance to prove themselves to me. They both had a journey to make, and ultimately, they did make it.
One of the things that impresses me about this author’s writing is her ability to echo certain metaphors throughout the book, creating a kind of metaphorical theme. In this metaphorical theme, love takes the shape of a curve of the body. When Katherine and Edmund are just beginning to know one another, not long after his mother has died, she observes this about him. “‘There’s a certain inward hollow of your shoulders when you’re thinking of your mother. Like a fallen tree.’ She whispered the last words, and they fell right on top of him. One by one, hammering him into the ground.” Not only does love take the shape of a curve, but the curve is also compared to a fallen tree, and then it is used to hammer him into the ground, where the tree would be growing. Much later in the story, Edmund finds himself admiring Katherine. “He kept his gaze trained on the curve of her back. If love had a shape, it would be that curve.” Unfortunately, I’m afraid my attempts to dissect the imagery and highlight its reappearance only serve to emphasize my inferiority in this regard. The important thing is that I’m impressed by the author.
This was a beautiful description of Edmund after making love to Katherine. “His mind seemed broken, blank, and incandescently happy.”
Katherine desperately wants to be free from taking care of her sister, Chrissy (Christiana). Edmund wants to help her to do that, even if it means she will leave him. That would devastate him, but he loves her enough to want her to be happy. She’s writing a book and hopes this will be her ticket to freedom.
“This” —her arms tightened around the folio— “this could be it.” Her gaze wandered over an ocean of dreams he wanted to cross with her. At the very least, he’d build her a boat, paint it the same color as the sea and make it tight and safe.
“This could win me my independence, my future,” she continued.
And he stood stranded on the shore, watching her shrink in her bobbing blue boat, her stormy myriad-colored hair streaming behind her.
Edmund, envisioning Katherine leaving him, is broken-hearted but silent, because he wants her to follow her dreams.
This part made me giggle out loud. What a visual! Edmund finds out that Katherine has gone to Jane and George’s home and is impatient to be with her again.
He…ran all the way to George’s townhome.
He arrived sweaty and windswept and entirely out of breath, falling through the door and laying in a puddle on the foyer floor.
The butler looked down at him, no concern showing on any lines of his face. “Lord Escher. Shall I alert the earl to your presence?”
And finally, there’s this line in the epilogue which is everything to me. They’ve put the children to bed and lay upon their own. Edmund asks Katherine, “So, shall we unmoor ourselves from the earth a bit and revel in the clouds?”