The blurb, courtesy of JulianneMacLean.com: Four years ago, a mesmerizing stranger pulled Lady Rebecca Newland from her runaway coach, galloping to her rescue in a fog-shrouded forest. Though she was just seventeen, Rebecca felt an irresistible desire for the mysterious man and swore that she would someday be his bride. But now she is betrothed to another man whom she detests - and Devon Sinclair, the future Duke of Pembroke and her hero, lies tantalizingly beyond her reach...
Haunted by an unspeakable past, Devon has no intention of taking a wife, not even the enticing Rebecca. But then his father rules that Devon must wed by Christmas or forfeit his rightful inheritance. Now, with his fortune at stake, Devon sets out to lure Rebecca to his bed… where the most unexpected secrets and lies stand in the way of their scandalous, explosive passion.
Rebecca seems to enchant Devon at first, and this part I enjoyed - his aspect of the story; falling head-first, while not wanting to acknowledge what he was feeling was love.
What bothered me was Rebecca. There was no acknowledgement on her part, really, of a girlish fantasy turned into an adult love. It was all about "I've loved you since I first saw you." Blah blah blah. I've come to expect more from MacLean as an author. Portrait of a Lover was a hugely in-depth, beautifully written, emotional book. This is not of the same caliber. And that disappoints. OTOH, MacLean does write her heroes with depth and character and great emotion. Would that the heroine had the same here.
The back story of Rebecca's father and her neighbor seemed anti-climactic to me - the resolution made me think "All this just for that?" It hardly seemed worth the effort it took to get there.
The last note I want to make - the entire story takes place over approximately one to two weeks time. At least I think it does. I couldn't be bothered to go back and check. That seems really fast for a girlish fantasy to turn into an adult love (perhaps that's why it was never mentioned), and for a man to fall head over heels into an ever-lasting love. Guess that's why divorce wasn't allowed back then.
It's not like me to feel so unenthusiastic toward an historical; perhaps it was just my mood at the time, and a reread would make me more inclined to be more favorable. But frankly, I'm not leaning toward a reread. The book's most redeeming feature to me is the trailer video, available for viewing on MacLean's web site. On a bright note - the 2nd book, featuring Devon's brother, looks to be far more interesting.