Wild Hearts
Virginia Henley
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Wild Hearts

Virginia Henley
400 pages
2003 reissue
rated 2 of 5 possible stars

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Paris Cockburn is the eldest son of a wealthy Scottish lord shortly after King James assumes the throne of England. After his father’s death, Paris, also known as Rogue, took responsibility for his six younger siblings, all named after cities (Shannon, Damascus, Troy, et cetera). He also assumed financial responsibility for a young girl he witnessed his father deposit at an Edinburgh orphanage, and has spent years wondering about her connection to his father. He goes to investigate and finds a delicately beautiful girl with spirit, a girl also named after a city and bearing a striking resemblance to his sisters.

Tabrizia Lamont, or Tabby as she is more commonly called, has spent much of her life alone, especially after being abandoned in a cold, unfriendly orphanage. When Rogue Cockburn appears and begins asking questions, she is at first afraid but begins to find hope that he can tell her more about her past, maybe more about the father she never met. After leaving the orphanage with him, Tabby’s spirit and fire make themselves known, and her attraction to Paris grows.

First released in 1985, Wild Hearts is an interesting story with a less-than interesting cast. I sense that the first few chapters were revised prior to the book’s re-release, giving readers hope that the storyline and plot will continue to be good. However, the rest of the book was NOT revised and quickly deteriorated into melodrama, irrational thoughts, and dysfunctional love. Paris is alternately charming and obnoxious, bringing to mind a boy in middle school who writes love notes to the girl of his choice and then makes fun of her at lunch. Tabby is young and immature, which makes her behavior somewhat understandable, but still leaves her well below par when it comes to admirable heroines.

Another disappointing – or should I say DISTURBING – aspect of the novel is the incestuous overtones of the relationship between Paris and Tabby. He suspects for much of the book that she could be his sister. She is completely unaware of his thoughts, which is good because not only does he lust after her, but he actually acts upon that lust. Readers automatically know that she’s not his sister because that just isn’t done in romance novels. But HE doesn’t know that, which is just downright sick if you really think about it.

The only thing that might set this book apart from other romances is the time period in which it is set. The popular age to write about is usually the Regency era, and few authors use post-Elizabethan England as a setting. I enjoyed the detail and facts that Henley peppered the book with. However, I might suggest that the next time a book of hers is to be re-released, all the chapters should be re-examined and re-written if necessary. Her writing has grown and evolved, and this book does not do her current reputation justice.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Kelley Sittner Hartshorn, 2004

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