Illustrator: Don Stivers
Book Series: Culhane Duo #2
Published by: Ace
Genres: Historical Romance, Bodice Ripper
Buy on: Amazon, AbeBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
SPOILER ALERT ⚠
However, don’t feel you need to read one to be comfortable reading the other. The relationship between the two books is not revealed until midway through this 630-page epic.
Like so many great bodice rippers of epic scope, Dangerous Obsession takes us through various years and continents. It spans twelve years in the life of Rhawnie, the blonde daughter of a gypsy and a Russian noblewoman.
American Seth Garrett has business to deal with in Russia. There, he will meet Rhawnie, and there begins a rocky love story that will span continents and years.
The Plot and the Characters
The Heroine, Rhawnie
Rhawnie is not a simpering, treacly-sweet girl or spunky, foot-stamping heroine. She lies for the hell of it: to strangers, to the people she loves, to herself! Rhawnie even lies on her (near) deathbed!
She is an unrepentant thief. Early on Rhawnie is caught stealing from an innkeeper and Seth, the hero, is forced to remove the purloined items hidden under her petticoats: a bottle of vodka, a wheel of cheese, a large loaf of bread, several sausages, a large knife, and a whole chicken!
When caught red-handed, she denies ever touching the stuff and accuses the innkeeper of framing her. In this, Rhawnie reminds me a bit of my daughter, [Note: she was 7 when I originally wrote this review] who lives by the motto: “Admit nothing, deny everything and make counter-accusations.”
Rhawnie is not a mere mortal. She is beautiful, a professional thief, a fortune-teller, a gambler, and card cheat, and a baroness.
Men duel and die over her. She is mistress to a king, a threat to a nobleman’s power, a world-famous singer, a saloon owner, the savior of an orphan, and a wronged woman.
Last and most of all, Rhawnie is the love object of two brothers, who are as opposite as day and night.
“You will travel far to find love, only to find that love has traveled with you.”
The Hero, Seth
The male protagonist, Seth Garrett, is a piece of work, and it took me a long time to warm up to him.
He’s no Sean Culhane or Duke Domenico, but he’s both cruel and vicious and unfeeling and cold. He wins the right to Rhawnie’s virginity in a card game but passes on the offer, as she is only 14 or 15. Her lecherous, older uncle then, in angry retaliation, beats and kicks Rhawnie while Seth just sort of stands there.
Then when her uncle rapes her a few pages later, Seth is too late to save her–even though he’s in the next room and can hear what’s going on!
He destroys any chance Rhawnie has for legitimacy in Paris society by publicly claiming her as his mistress.
And the evil Seth inflicts upon Rhawnie in Chapter 10 simply calls for a karmic justice that never occurs.
But…he does properly declare himself at the end (if that redemption/groveling arc matters to you). He gives himself completely to Rhawnie.
Seth is not perfect, but neither is Rhawnie, so together, they are perfect.
The Good and the Bad
Dangerous Obsession is written in the first person, but as Rhawnie is a great narrator, with so many wonderful quips and observations, this did not detract. There was an appropriate blend of action and introspection, but no excessive self-absorption of feeling too often found in modern romances.
However, the action does get a bit too much at the end. The book is a hefty door-stopper and Natasha Peters could have cut it 75 to 50 pages shorter.
Rhawnie and Seth embark on a search for Seth’s missing sister that takes them through the American west.
They get on TWO different boats that explode and sink into the river. Seth gets injured, and Rhawnie nurses him back to life. Rhawnie gets cholera, so Seth has to nurse her back to life (on a regiment of camphor, cannabis, and caviar, no less)!
They travel for months through the mountains and have many misadventures; she survives a great fire, gets kidnapped, gets addicted to laudanum, gets rescued…
And before you know it–whew! It’s over.
Final Analysis of Dangerous Obsession
Natasha Peters’ Dangerous Obsession was so close to perfect. It’s such a shame that, like so many bodice rippers, in the end, it falters under its own hefty weight.
Nevertheless, I’m rounding my initial 4.5-star rating up to a 5 solely on the basis of the heroine, Rhawnie, who is all kinds of awesome.
|Rating Report Card|
She was daring and defiant; tender and wanton. She was child; she was woman. she was Rhawnie.
From a starving gypsy in Russia to an exotic demi-mondaine in Paris to a countess in Bavaria to a sensation in New York from a survivor in the western wilderness to a card shark in San Francisco — such were the heights and depths of existence for Rhawnie.
Her wit, her cunning, her beauty, the sensuous delights she performs to well protect her even as they cause her agony and shame. For deep in her soul is a love for a man, a man who has brought her only degradation and heartbreak.
Wherever she goes, whatever she does, Rhawnie cannot escape Seth Garrett. The constant ache for his arms, the ever present need for the fires of passion he alone can ignite, and his relentless pursuit of her have made her his prisoner. Across continents fleeing danger and death, Rhawnie runs…from this man…from herself…until she knows that with a love so powerful, a love so shameless, she can do nothing but surrender!DANGEROUS OBSESSION by NATASHA PETERS