Harlequin Presents #1840
***Spoiler alert ***
I’ve said this before about a Charlotte Lamb book, but now I really mean it: this is the worst romance written by her that I’ve ever read! I don’t think I’ve ever hated a Harlequin Presents as much as Dark Fever. No, it wasn’t boring… It was bizarre and awful and left me with a horrible feeling!
Dark Fever was part of a series of books based on the Seven Deadly Sins. The theme of this novel was lust, although there’s no sexual intercourse in this one. Personally, I thought this book’s theme of sin was gluttony because all the talk of food. It was set in Spain, after all.
Bianca has just turned 40 years old. She is a widow of 3 years, still in mourning for her husband. She has two teenagers and feels down in the dumps, so she goes on a trip to Spain. At her hotel, she sees a handsome man swimming in a pool and instantly falls in lust.
The man, Gil, is much younger than Bianca. He also is deeply attracted to her, and he cares for her as well. They flirt; she teases him. But ultimately, her feelings for her dead husband create an overwhelming sense of guilt over the sexual desire she feels for another man.
Then a tragedy occurs: Bianca get gets brutally beaten and almost raped. Her trauma causes her to become disgusted at the idea of sex. This is what most of the book entails: not the relationship with Gil, but Bianca’s recovery from her ordeal. Sadly, she seems to not truly recuperate.
Biance says goodbye to Gil and goes back to England. However Gil feels far more for Bianca than she does for him, so he follows her and declares his love.
The Awful Ending
The end of this strange book is the insulting coup de grace:
“[Gil says] ‘…I’m not even asking you to marry me, Bianca, I’m only saying I want to get to know you better.‘
“She met his eyes. ‘You want to sleep with me—isn’t that what you’re saying?‘
“’You know I do,’ he said huskily. ‘I won’t lie about that—I want you, I said so, but not until you’re ready.’
“’And if I never am?’
“He grimaced. ‘I’ll have to live with that won’t I?’
“’Yes,’ she said her gaze defiant.”
Bianca stares at herself in the mirror as she prepares for their first date, thinking that she’s too old (at only 40!) for romance and may just be in it for a short-term fling. Who knows what will happen? It’s a mystery that ends unresolved.
Final Analysis of Dark Fever
This was a romance novel? What the ever-loving hell?
I understand some modern romances don’t end with a HEA, but “happy enough for now,” but that is not what I expect when I read a Harlequin Presents! Especially one written long ago in 1995.
Dark Fever was Women’s Fiction published as a romance, and I hated it!