I’ve really enjoyed several of Catherine Coulter’s books, and I tend to gravitate towards historical romances, so when I saw this book on the table of a used book sale, I grabbed it. Well, I got invested enough in it to bother finishing it, but it’s not one that I’ll ever re-read. The main characters (Marcus and Duchess) aren’t particularly likable; they feel more like caricatures than fully-developed people. There are several times in the first half (maybe two thirds) of the book where it felt like they behaved in a certain way just to advance the plot. Then, at a certain point in the book, a switch suddenly flips and they’re much more believable as people and they’re in love. Honestly, the first character in the book that I liked was the villain.
Duchess (used as her name, it’s not her title) is an illegitimate daughter of an English earl. Marcus is her half-cousin. The plot is fairly predictable, but I’ll try to not give too much away. As nearly always happens in these novels, they end up married against someone’s will (in this case an unwilling groom) which does not make for a happy marriage. Generally, even when the unwilling party behaves badly, he or she has at least a few redeeming qualities that allows the reader to see why the injured party is willing to pursue the relationship. Not so in this case. Marcus does indeed behave very, very badly, but there is no glimmer of a happy home that would allow the reader to understand why Duchess accepted it. Then again, Duchess herself is not a very endearing character, herself. One’s sympathies may even at time lie with Marcus. Then there are one or two scenes where Duchess behaves as badly as Marcus, and suddenly they’re in love and happily married. Sorry, I just don’t buy it. The plot drove the character’s actions; it didn’t seem to arise naturally from who they were.
I didn’t mention the so-called “Legacy.” That’s because it’s really not important at all. It’s only purpose was to introduce the necessary villain into the book. Why necessary? So that Duchess and Marcus could both figure out and prove that they really love each other, of course.
Like I said, I got invested enough in this book to bother finishing it. A bad Catherine Coulter book can still beat a book by a bad author. It’s easy to put down and pick up again later, which I personally see as a plus. The minor characters were more likable and interesting than the central couple. It’s not a book that I would really recommend, but if you just needed something to read while sitting at a kid’s piano lesson, swim class or whatever, this would serve that purpose adequately.