Historical - April 2000
I chose The Lover by Robin Schone for my February reread. I remember the first time I read this book, it was one of my first erotic romances, as well as the first book that ever made me cry. I often wondered if it would have the same impact as it did then.
Two years ago I thought I was going to meet her when me and my mom attended Lora leigh's RAW in 2007. I was so excited. But she was unable to attend. Then I thought I would get to meet her when we went to the RT signing in Pittsburgh, and again, she wasn't there. Someday...
Thirty-six year old virgin spinster Anne Aimes is afraid her life will end without the pleasures of a man. Watching her parents age and die within a loveless marriage, Anne fears she'll wind up with the same fate. Using the money that would have been her dowry, Anne sets up a business arrangement with a man that for one month he is to pleasure her at the cost of ten thousand pounds.
Michael, a forty year old whore by trade, is infamous for his ability to bring a woman to orgasm. Having suffered burns on his hands and the side of his face five years ago women stopped paying him for his renowned services. He now pays them for his pleasure, but still there is repulsion by those women. They cringe away from his burns, as if they are disgusting.
Until Anne Aimes. She is neither frightened nor repulsed by his scars.
There is danger Michael feels Anne is now in due to her association with him. His past forever haunts him. So Michael ups the ante. Rather than him simply pleasuring Anne for one month in the dark of night in secrecy, as a whore would, he proposes they share their lives as lovers, friends, for one month, thinking he can protect her if she is close to him, living in his home. Anne is reluctant to accept this new proposition, but eventually agrees.
A whore by trade, a spinster by marital status, Michael and Anne need each other in ways neither of them can even begin to comprehend. Both of them having pasts devoid of love, they unknowingly begin to seek that which both of them desire, need, yearn for. To be touched. To be needed. To be loved. And within each others arms they find what they seek. If there are two people that truly need each other, it is Anne and Michael.
One of the things I loved about The Lover is that the hero and heroine are neither beautiful nor young. Michael once was physically beautiful, but his scarring gives him that necessary flaw that makes your heart go out to him. Here is a short section that I loved and made me blurry-eyed. It's during their first intimate encounter in chapter two.
"I'm not young."Michael's perspective lends a grave undertone to this story. The danger that is mentioned throughout culminates horrifically in the end with Anne on the receiving end. It is nightmare worthy. It gives the story that Gothic pitch, making it not your typical historical. And Anne's lack of vibrancy, her serious personality combined with Michael's personality created a very dark story. The end, what Michael does to Anne after her horrifying ordeal with the man from Michael's past, I cried the first time I read it. I wondered if that part would have the same impact if I should ever reread this book and it was more the morbidity of it rather than the emotions due to the relationship. Pretty disturbing shit at the end of that book!
He forced her head up. Darkness shadowed his face. Only his eyes were alive. "Neither am I."
Tears pricked her eyelids. "I'm not beautiful."
His fingers tightened in her hair. "Neither am I."
I think Robin Schone has a fabulous writing voice, even if she is rather blunt at times with her sexual dialogue. It's different and I loved it the first time and again the second time around. It will still remain a favorite among my keeper shelves. You feel the need and the yearning that boils between them, the loneliness that each of them feel. The dialogue, the scenes, the characters, the plot, the suspense, all of it was fabulously done.
Another great choice that I am pleased I picked for my challenge.
On a side note, Michael's friend Gabriel, who owns the whore house (where Michael first meets Anne) has his own book, Gabriel's Woman. I loved that one too.