His love was only an illusion
On her wedding day, Kate felt how miraculous was to truly love and beloved. As Hugo’s wife, she knew the rest of her life would be blessed
Then Kate overheard her husband’s grim plan for their future together–a plan of revenge against Kate! Desperately hurt and afraid of the stranger who was her husband, she ran away to Majorca, to heal her broken heart in safety and solitude
But she underestimated the power of Hugo’s will and the compulsion that drove him to reclaim her–for better, or for worse!Shattered Dreams by Sally Wentworth
Sally Wentworth‘s Shattered Dreams is terrible, for all the wrong reasons. It’s extremely violent, although I’ve read books where far worse events occur to the heroine. Take the bodice ripper great Stormfire, for example.
However, in this Harlequin Presents what the hero does to the heroine seems more repulsive perhaps due to its condensed nature.
Where thick historical romances like Stormfire have 400-500+ pages to deal with insane villainous heroes and their co-dependent heroines, a category romance is limited to 60,000-70,000 words. The craziness level can only be ratcheted up so far before the hero becomes irredeemable.
The Crazy Setup
Sally Wentworth always wrote very well, her prose attentive and skillful, but this was truly bizarre. Kate is happy as a bride can be on her wedding day, as she’s marrying Hugo, the man she loves. Little does she know what her marriage holds in store for her. For Hugo has had a private detective tailing his nubile young wife, and he’s found out startling information: over the past year, she’s been living with some strange man while playing the wealthy Hugo for a fool!
Of course, this strange man is not Kate’s lover; it’s her wayward half-brother, whom Hugo knows nothing about because people in these sorts of books don’t act like normal human beings on planet Earth do, speaking to each other through words.
The Crazy Plot
When Hugo first met Kate, he pursued her for a strictly sexual affair, going as far as offering her money. Kate rebuffed his initial attempts. Only when Hugo changed his tune, treating her with respect, did she acquiesce to date him.
She did not, however, sleep with him. So Hugo holds his new wife captive.
He thought she was stringing him along to sink her hooks into his total fortune. Hugo believed Kate had been cheating for months, and worst of all, that she lied about being a virgin.
The Villain Hero and the Virgin Heroine
Of course, she is a virgin, but he accuses her of being the sluttiest-slut-who-ever-did-slut. Honestly, I think Hugo was turned on by the idea… The problem was he was disgusted at himself for being turned on, so he took his aggression out on the victim, er heroine.
Hugo keeps her imprisoned, haranguing her about her slattern ways, and at one point is so enraged by Kate’s supposed infidelity that he holds her head underwater in an attempt to drown her!
Kate is not a willing victim and fights back, trying to escape several times by climbing out windows or attempting to contact friends for help. At every turn, though,
Hugo is able to prevent her from fleeing. Finally, when it seems Hugo is showing some signs of remorse, that he’s willing to accept Kate as she is, a money-hungry, cheating tramp, Kate reveals the truth. The other man is her brother, and she’s still as untouched as last year’s Christmas fruit cake.
Final Analysis of Shattered Dreams
While well-written and oddly engrossing, with a crazed villain hero Shattered Dreams is missing a critical piece in a romance novel: any semblance of romance!
There is no communication, only accusations, abuse, torture, stubbornness, pride, and outright stupidity. If Wentworth had included some inkling of love and affection between the two characters, some sort of true contrition on Hugo’s part, or shown a process of healing, perhaps the story could have been salvaged.
Readers, do not take this book seriously, but if you do, take it as a cautionary tale.
The virgin heroine, the villain-as-the-hero, the big misunderstanding, all the Harlequin tropes are here. Sally Wentworth’s The Judas Kiss is one of my favorite Harlequin Presents. (I will add a review for that one soon). Unfortunately, Shattered Dreams is on the other side of the spectrum.
1 1/2 Stars