Friday, December 28, 2007

Book Review: The Devil's Web

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. It is the third in a series about three siblings, the first two being The Gilded Web and Web of Love, respectively. When I first read The Gilded Web over a year ago, it was not the hero and heroine of that book that caught my attention, but rather the subplot of James and Madeline, the hero and heroine in this book. When I saw this book of the shelves I snatched it up immediately.

Quick synopsis: James's younger sister is married to Madeline's oldest brother. When those two got together in The Gilded Web there was a lot of tension between James and Madeline. James was a somewhat tortured hero who grew up in a very strict religious household that burdened him with a whole lotta guilt. Madeline, on the other hand, grew up in a warm, loving family, and is a very vivacious young woman who at times is very immature. They share a passionate encounter, but the next day James departs for Canada and doesn't return to England for another four years. Neither James nor Madeline has forgotten the other in that time.

I really enjoy Mary Balogh's books. She is a terrific romantic writer who, usually, really gets her character. I felt like the she really nailed the character of Madeline, Madeline made complete sense to me. Madeline wants nothing more than to be in love, get married, and become a mother, but she just can't seem to meet any men that make her willing to take that step. At twenty-six she feels like a spinster, fears that she will never find someone who is right for her, and is afraid that she is a burden to her two brother who are both happily married with children. But standing in the way of her happiness is this consuming obsession she has for James--despite the fact that they quarrel whenever they are around each other and make each other miserable.

I could accept that Madeline loved James despite the horrid way he treated her because, well, sometimes you can't help who you have feelings for. And Madeline tried to make a go of their relationship.

James, however, did not make any sense to me. He was absolutely horrid to Madeline, despite the fact that he supposedly was madly in love with her. Balogh's reasons for having James hold himself back and be so dreadful just didn't make any sense to me, and the resolution of their agonizingly long conflict (it lasts nearly the entire book and culminates to the point where it seems all hope is lost) seemed too easy considering the history between them.

So I was delighted with Madeline's character, but confused with James's. Overall, I would recommend this book because it did tug on my heartstrings, which is always nice, an emotional attachment. But I wouldn't recommend reading it unless you've already read The Gilded Web and preferably Web of Love, too, because the character of Madeline is really a work in progress over all three of these books.

Lindsey's Grade: B

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed Madeline in the other two books and I was intrigued by James' troubles before he went away in the earlier books. However, their story was such a disapointment.

I was looking for them to have to work to develop their relationship. It seemed that Madeline was such an open person that she would have communicated to James. I never felt that we were able to get past James' issues with really sharing who he was with Madeline until the end. While I love Balogh, I was totally disappointed in this book. I waited so long to read it but it was really frustrating and depressing. For some reason, I did beleive that they loved each other but it would have been nice to see that demonstrated more than once before the end of the book.