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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Craving Beauty

*** Craving Beauty by Nalini Singh. Contemporary romance.

Not long after I read the amazing
Slave to Sensation, I had the opportunity to get a handful of Nalini Singh's backlist, signed, in a charity auction, so I jumped at it. This is the first of those books I've read.

On the heels of rejection by a man she thought she'd loved, Hira Dazirah finds herself married to an American she's never actually met, Marc Bordeaux.

The fictional Arabic country of Zulheil is fairly progressive, but not so Hira's family. She's wanted to go to school, use her brain, be independent, but her father has forbidden it. When she believes herself in love with one of the few young men she's come in contact with, she suggests they elope. He refuses--beautiful though Hira is, he wants her father's approval, and his money--more.

Then she sees Marc, and feels a spark for him, and when her father informs her Marc has asked for her hand in marriage, she believes he feels the same way, and that this is her chance to be both free and loved.

Marc is scarred, and believes no woman would be interested in him because of it. Hira is very beautiful, but she believes no man would be interested in anything other than her beauty.

Which is a good and poignant conflict, except that it made me want to whack them both upside the head, then lock them in a closet until they actually talked to each other.

Marc thinks Hira wants beautiful clothes and to spend her days shopping, so he provides her with that, then uses the fact that she accepts as proof that that's all she wants. Hira thinks Marc wants a beautiful trophy, so she spends her time making herself beautiful and uses the fact that he appreciates her beauty as proof that that's all he wants.

And then the sex. Yes, it's steamy, but it's almost painful to read, because they can't resist each other, but they're both so afraid of rejection that they hold back emotionally, and the encounters leave them physically satisfied but emotionally miserable.

I know that in real life, communication is a huge problem in relationships. But it drives me nuts, especially in books, but in real life, too. Inside, I'm screaming, "just talk to each other already!"

I was so distracted by my frustration with this couple that I just couldn't appreciate the story. Recently, though, I had a revelation about why this particular conflict makes me so nuts, so maybe if I re-read it, I'd have a different opinion... (glances at the TBR mountain, back at the book)... nah, not gonna happen. The next time I encounter this conflict, though, I'll hopefully handle it better.

I do have high hopes for the other older Nalini Singh books in my TBR pile.


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My reaction to this one was similar to yours!
That's great to know--I should have checked your review first, instead of just the Amazon ones, which were raves. And I believed them because I loved Slave to Sensation so much.

Now I won't feel bad about deciding not to try to re-read it.
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