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Title : The Demon Lover
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780006168256
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 384 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Demon Lover Reviews

  • Willow
    2019-05-22 02:45

    Victoria Holt (aka the amazing Eleanor Alice Burford) mostly wrote gothic mysteries. Her books usually have an intrepid heroine, a mysterious murder, and dark lover. The heroine falls in love and solves the murder, usually in that order. This book is a little different though. Holt strays from her usual gothic formula into bodice ripper territory here, which made me do a happy dance. You should have seen me while I was reading the first half. I was grinning from ear to ear. Other Holt fans weren't so happy though. Yet what’s funny is, all those one star reviews is what attracted me to the book in the first place. :)The story is simple. A young artist goes with her father to paint a wealthy, powerful and arrogant French-Norman Baron. He’s rather attracted to her, but she dislikes him. But later when her father goes home and she’s working on another commission, he abducts her and does dastardly things to her. I don’t want to give too much away. But I will say the build-up and execution of the first two thirds of this book were so well done, I was riveted. And I believed the characters. I understood their actions. Kate Collison is a great heroine. She’s a proper Victorian miss, polite and feminine (which I think gets a bad rap nowadays) but she also has a driving desire to be a successful artist and see the world like her father has. I loved the close relationship between Kate and her father. There is so much love and tenderness between them. I completely understand Kate’s outrage at what has happened to her and understand her loathing for the Baron. The Baron is a villain. He’s totally ruthless and uses people like pawns to get what he wants. (I liked him a lot…sad I know. LOLOL) I think he’s one of Holt’s darkest heros. Toward the middle of the book, he redeems himself, but never completely. That’s probably what has other reviewers so upset. He doesn’t completely change. But then I think Holt was aware of human nature enough to know that he could never change completely. He may be on his best behavior for Kate, but there will always be a part of him that is a ruthless bastard. Even Kate knows that. She understands him. But unlike some bodice rippers I've read, I believe these two will be happy with each other. It’s not a perfect, happy ending with a bow on top, but a flawed, messy, happy ending, which always seems more realistic to me. So yes, I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I almost knocked a star because in the last third of the book, the Baron pesters Kate over and over into becoming his lover and she keeps telling him she’s going back to England (which we know she doesn’t want to do.) I could handle one conversation like this, but there were several. It got tiresome. I started thinking of the Baron (whom I liked in the beginning) as a big pest and Kate as annoyingly coy. Holt changed my mind though with a surprise ending that pulled the rug out from under my feet. Consequently, I ended up not removing the star. I would give this book **** ½ if I could. Anyhoo, I think you would enjoy this book if you like well written bodice rippers. But if you hoping for Victoria Holt’s usual gothic storyline, you may be disappointed.

  • Naksed
    2019-06-03 03:45

    -"It's not exactly a handsome face, is it? Not exactly a kind face. There's cruelty in it... and all those unpleasant characteristics which alas you have discovered."-"It's a portrait of you, Baron, not of Prince Charming."-"Ah, you would have to get Bertrand to pose for that. As this is to go to my fiancee, I think I shall call it 'The Demon Lover.' Do you think that appropriate?"-"Perhaps," I said as coolly as I could. "But you would know best about that."The Demon Lover, by Victoria Holt.Victoria Holt's The Demon Lover is a true bodice-ripper. No holds barred. The main male protagonist is a French aristocrat who identifies with his Viking ancestors and their habit of descending upon Normandy in the Middle-Ages to rape, pillage, and plunder at will. Ensconced in his Norman fortress like the King of his own kingdom, even though it is the late 19th century and the state of the French monarchy is wobbly at best, he decides, upon meeting our English heroine, a young, talented, and ambitious, miniature painter, that he will have her, at any cost. Painting of Pontefract Castle, a structure built in the Norman style in the eleventh century, much like Centeville, the Baron's estate.There is no forced "seduction" here. Force is all he employs towards his dastardly goal. If you enjoyed unrepentant, arrogant, powerful, promiscuous, oppressive, charismatic, anti-heroes like the ones in Christine Monson's Stormfire, Teresa Denys'The Silver Devil, or Marilyn Harris' This Other Eden, you will find that Holt's French Baron is of the same ilk, if not worse. Edgar Degas, The Rape (1868-69)He is not a static character though, and neither is she. I thought the way Holt turned the tables from one end of the book to the other in our perception of the loathsome Rollo and the, at-first-glance, victimized Kate, was genius. Kate is not a doormat, weak, martyr, Victorian heroine. She is made of granite. She despises weakness, the people who she calls "lame ducks." (view spoiler)[This is why she is fascinated by the Baron's strength, even as she hates him for it, it is always tinged with admiration. Why she could never fall for any other man, certainly not the milk and water minor aristocrat who would have married her for love. And her contempt of the Baron's wife, the hypochondriac Princess, is just as potent as her pity and empathy for her. (hide spoiler)] Kate is also tenacious, defiant, and single-minded in her pursuit of a career as a famous artist. She has a true artist's temperament. (view spoiler)[Mothering does not soften her one bit and if her son wasn't just as strong and willful as her, as similar to his father, it is doubtful that she would have loved him as much, that is evident. (hide spoiler)]The Baron, as all powerful and arrogant as he is, is the first to break upon her stony resistance, despite his relentless attempts to subjugate her. (view spoiler)[His abduction and assault on her has for goal to get her to submit but she does not and never will. It is when he realizes and accepts it that he employs another tactic, which is that he submits to her, privately, and does a mighty good grovel, even as he remains his autocratic persona on the outside. The two of them together remind me of a lion and lioness. The lion is king but the lioness is the fierce, desired, and worshipped hunter. (hide spoiler)]I don't really want to reveal more because it is too delicious to make the discovery on your own, should you choose to embark on this insane journey, of how in the ever loving stars Holt managed to turn a vicious assault into a story of love. Dysfunctional, twisted, dark, insane in the membrane, but love nevertheless. These two were made for each other. Bonus to an enthralling story is having a likable heroine who has a real calling, other than snagging herself a rich husband or finding eternal joy in the confines of matrimony and motherhood. I liked her drive and her ambition, the fact that she talked back so defiantly to those who would seek to humiliate her, she had tenderness for her family and friends, and she picked herself up and took a big leap, again and again, in her strive for independence and her dream of as career as a miniaturist.All the talk about the miniature painting history, techniques, and the family legacy of being heir to a long line of illustrious artists was fascinating to me. The miniature paintings she makes of the Baron and his betrothed, the miniature of her own ancestor who is part of the Baron's collection, the Baron's own thwarted desire and love for art (he is passionate about it, has incredible taste and instinct, and he has encyclopedic knowledge of it but he lacks the talent that seems to be Kate's divine gift) and the tragedy of her father's inability to continue as an artist, were a poignant part of the narrative.Miniature portrait of the 19th centuryI also enjoyed the description of the siege of Paris in 1870 by the Prussian Army. That part of the novel, as harrowing as it was, was also the one where the characters experience a real emotional growth and I finally had more insight into their real persona, as opposed to the conventional masks they don in society.A bombed out Champs Elysees shortly before the Prussians triumphantly marched into the capital.The big "twist" of the ending was predictable to me but it did not mar my enjoyment of reading the last few chapters of the story. The discussions between the protagonists as to their conundrum were a bit repetitive and tedious. Alas, the ending, though adequate, left me a bit wanting because after all the storm of torture and agony, I would have liked to see, dare I say it, a bit of the rainbow but I understand and respect the author's decision to play it that way.I had attempted a couple of Victoria Holt books in the past and disliked them but I am so happy that I did not give up on her because this book was excellent, one of those unputdownable stories that you gobble up in one sitting. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Julz
    2019-06-04 11:03

    4.5 rounded up Victoria Holt absolutely owns me these days and this book is a clincher. This one steps out of her usual mode and takes the path of the bodice ripper. Hell, this guy just did away with the bodice altogether and made her stay naked for three days. But I’m getting ahead of myself…This is a story about a talented artist who clandestinely fills in for her father who is losing his eyesight. They travel together to do a painting of the Baron, pretending it’s her father doing the work when it’s actually her. They go down this route because, as you know, vaginas negated all talent in those days. They think they have the Baron hoodwinked but he’s no fool. But he thinks the heroine is a nice package so he lets her and her father get away with it and even helps launch her career. A real progressive kind of guy, wouldn’t you say. *cough* Sure. The H is an egomaniac baron who is getting ready to marry a princess. However, he has this mistress problem and is trying to pawn her off on a cousin, but the h ruins the Baron’s plans by being so delectable that the cousin wants to marry her instead. The cousin dooms himself and the h, though, by defiantly stating that he would never marry a mistress of the Baron. Um um um. To teach cuz a lesson, the Baron drugs and kidnaps the h and locks her in a tower where he proceeds to rape her, complete with fighting and scratching, repeatedly for three days (though much later, she reminisces fondly. Uh, right). VH is usually such a beat-around-the-bush kind of girl. I totally wasn’t expecting her to bust out with WTFery like that. Very surprising to say the least. Unlike so many stories, there were no last minute saves, no changing his mind about who to marry, no prettying it up, whatsoever (though he was lovey dovey with the he assaulted her). When he drags the cousin in for the showdown, the Baron’s all gleeful when he tells him that the h fought him like a tiger (or some animal/action like that) and to enjoy his leavings. What a nice guy. Of course, the h decides she could never marry the cousin now and goes off to live her life. Just when you think that she might be able to recover and move on we find out she’s pregnant. But it’s all good and she gets help and has a success of it. Five years go by before the Baron makes a reappearance in the story. There’s a bunch of other stuff, mixed in before and after: mistress friends, father stuff, wars, and then they end up back at the castle...where his wife and other son live. You know there’ll be trouble. There’s a bunch of stuff that goes on at the castle with the wife and sons, mixed in with a ton of ambivalence on the h’s part, though she luvs him, while the H continues to pressure the h to ignore that wife person upstairs and be his lady love. The ending totally wiped the rug out from under me. I have purposely not talked about anything that could give it away, because it’s just too much fun to be floored like that to ruin it. I definitely recommend this but recognize that there's a lot in this one that would turn some people off. I have to admit that I love this book probably for reasons that a lot of people hate it. It doesn’t sugar coat anything or make nice. It didn’t try to fix everything and make it fit into a little feel-good box. The hero is ruthless and had little time for anything but his own desires and those he loves. Many people we care about get the shaft and we never get to see how it turns out. Or maybe we know in our hearts and are in denial (if you read it, you’ll know who I mean.) If you need everything tied up in a neat little PC bow, then this one will sorely disappoint. If you like stories that depict people realistically in their baser element, then you’ll probably like this one.

  • Regan Walker
    2019-05-22 08:58

    Gripping Story of a Tumultuous Love, a Bodice-Ripper set in England and France in the late 1800sSet mostly in France in the late Victorian period, this tells the story of Kate Collison, of the famous (fictional) Collison family of brilliant painters of miniatures, each artist signing the portraits “KC.” In each generation, the next son had taken up the art to astound patrons in England and in Europe. Unfortunately, Kate’s mother, the daughter of a duke, gave Kate’s father, Kendal Collison, only a daughter. But Kate was determined to become better than any son of the family who had gone before her.When her father develops cataracts and his ability to paint the fine strokes diminishes, she becomes his eyes. Signing the portraits “KC,” as all in her family have, no one would know a woman had painted them. A new commission arrives from a baron in Normandy who wants miniatures of himself and his fiancée, a princess. So, Kate and her father travel to France intending to do the miniatures together. At the baron’s castle, before he arrives, Kate begins to fall in love with the baron’s cousin Bertrand de Mortemer. And then she meets the Baron, Rollo de Centeville, who by his own description is “arrogant, overbearing, impatient and self-willed.” And he was clever, soon figuring out that the miniature he comes to admire is being painted by Kate and not her father. He also will have his way with Kate, no matter the cost to her.An ingenious, intricately woven plot that had me turning pages, it tells the story of a selfish man who, like his Viking forbearers, thought nothing of raping a woman to get what he wanted. And so he drugs and rapes Kate and then holds her prisoner for the purpose of reminding Bertrand that he, the baron, is in control. I must say that I had a bit of trouble understanding how Kate, having gone home to England, could return to France after what happened to her, or how she could keep from those who loved her that she’d been brutally raped by the man they thought to admire. Nor could I understand how the Baron’s mistress, Nicole, would, after being cast aside by the Baron, try to convince Kate she should be more understanding of him. Ah, well, such are the twists and turns in this story. I loved Kate’s spirit, her determination and her strength. And I thought the way Holt showed how the artist gleaned the nuances of the subject’s personality while painting was masterful. There is a certain satisfaction in seeing the Baron have his comeuppance, though even then, one can certainly agree with the hatred Kate feels for the man who ruined, as well as benefited, her life. Unlike some of her stories, Holt brought the heroine’s feelings about the “hero” (sometimes the baron seemed more the villain) to the fore early on, and that was good.Holt does a brilliant job of showing us what the people of Paris lived through in the 1870 siege of the city by the Prussians when the people were starved into submission.Like her other novels, it is told in the first person. A well-written bodice ripper, it does contain rape; and while there are no details or vivid descriptions, the fact of it is no less horrible.There’s a surprise ending awaiting you. The story is a keeper. I recommend it.

  • MomToKippy
    2019-06-12 07:46

    This is tough one for me to rate or describe. First, it did not feel like Victoria Holt to me - can't quite put my finger on why. The tone was a bit different and it just didn't pull me in at first. A lot of telling instead of showing to begin with. And then I was shocked by the major incident in the first third of the book primarily because I assumed all her books were squeaky clean for the most part. Although explicit details were left out it was thematically explicit. I was so upset by what happened I almost threw this book aside. And there were little details here and there to imply that the heroine almost enjoyed what happened to her - just a tiny doubt here and there. I found that repulsive. I persevered though. As the story progressed it became more interesting. Holt does weave a good story incorporating, art, war, mysterious deaths all cloaked in rich atmosphere. As usual, the characters come to life and evolve. I really enjoy her use of dialogue. She reveals so much through the voices of the characters. (better than the beginning) I am not sure I bought the heroine's change of attitude toward her oppressor but the details of the story support it I suppose. But overall well done.

  • Becky
    2019-06-15 09:11

    I went searching for something along the same lines as The Silver Devil when I stumbled across this old gothic romance. I thought what the heck I'll give it a try. I finished it, but barely, and I'll explain why.Now like I said I went searching for this type of book with the alpha male who is ruthless and slightly sadistic so I didn't mind the beginning and what the Baron did to Kate so much as what I'm sure some reviewers would have. But I didn't like how things turned out for either of them. I wanted the Baron to suffer more, and to truly hate his actions, and to grovel. It was obvious he didn't mean a word he said to Kate when apologizing to her for his mistreatment of her. It drove me crazy.I could tell just from his tone that he could care less that he hurt her, and was still only worried about achieving what he wanted which was Kate in his bed and his son in his life. It was nauseating that Kate would every day say "I must get away from him quickly" and then do nothing at all.At first I liked her strength and resolve but she quickly wilted and became rather pathetic. I'm not saying she had to be this super strong independent heroine that needed no man, because I know during that time period that would have been unrealistic of a woman to act that way. But there's such a thing as self control, and quiet strength and she seemed to have neither.

  • KatieV
    2019-05-21 05:08

    Eta: I had to go from 3 to 4 stars because I've found myself rereading parts of this and it has really made an impression. Still full of rage inducing wtf'ery and not exactly romance.The writing was good/engaging and I liked the heroine, but I never really bought that the Baron wanted her / loved her. I was really torn on the rating, because it did keep me reading and I loved the heroine.*****************************spoilers*********************************Kate was engaged to the Baron's cousin, but the Baron had wanted the cousin to marry his ex-mistress instead. When the cousin tells the Baron he doesn't want his castoff, that's when he decides to abduct and rape Kate - that way his naughty, defiant cousin will not be defying him after all, as Kate will then be one of his castoffs as well. After he holds her captive for 3 days in his castle and rapes/forcibly seduces her repeatedly, he just lets her go. No goodbye, no f* you very much, nada! He not only lets her go, but he demands that his cousin go ahead and marry her as well. Apparently, he doesn't care if another man has her. I prefer my bodice ripper H's to be far more possessive than that. Unfortunately for the Baron, the rape drives a wedge between Kate and his cousin and they never marry, so his petty revenge fails.Of course, Kate turns up pregnant and she's terrified about what to do with morals/times being as they are. Unbeknownst to her, the Baron sends his ex-mistress to befriend her and take her into her home in Paris (which he owns and pays all the bills for). So, granted, he does take care of her, but I wasn't impressed. I think it was sort of a code of honor with these men to make a good settlement on an ex-mistress (which is what he considered her) and pay for the upkeep of their bastards when they are done with their mothers. He was basically doing the same thing for Nicole(the ex-mistress he sent to befriend Kate).IMHO, if he'd truly given a crap, he wouldn't have disappeared for 5 years. Granted, if he had stayed away because of guilt and a desire to do what was best for the h, I'd have been able to deal with that. The sort of thing where he pines away for her and sneaks around trying to catch a glimpse of her now and then, but I have no indication he did that. And guilt was not in this man's vocabulary, so he does not stay away to spare her his presence. Nope, dude just secretly paid all the bills and then out of the blue decides to appear 5 yrs later for reasons I am yet to understand. He first befriends the little boy when he goes to the park with his nanny and never even sees Kate until she happens to come to the park one day herself. Then he's all, "I think about you all the time, my life is miserable, I hate my wife.... blah, blah, blah. Our time together was so wonderful. I want you and my son." Kate is terrified, but tells him in her own polite English way to go f himself and makes sure the boy only goes to the park when the Baron won't be around. Again, he doesn't come after her. No OTT stalker behavior and again, I refuse to believe it was for honorable reasons.Soon after, the Franco-Prussian war comes along and Paris is about to be placed under siege. The Baron comes to Paris to take Kate, Nicole, his son, and the nanny back to his rural castle - a place that the very idea of traumatizes Kate. She refuses and he just shrugs (literally) and leaves. This guy is not above abduction and this time there's an actual reason for it (Nicole ends up dying in the siege after Kate refuses to leave) but this time he just shrugs.He does turn up a few weeks later to take them out of Paris and is more forceful about it, so that gave him a point or two, I suppose. The thing is, I never bought his undying love for her due to the 5 FRICKING YEAR thing. I think he was more interested in the boy (since the one he had with his wife was not actually his). He does claim that Kate is the most important to him and that even without the child he'd want her and he loves her more than anything, but again I wasn't impressed. He expects her become his mistress and he will legitimize the child. Kate refuses. But they do end up together in the end when the wife dies. Unfortunately we don't get to see them actually together, which was something I needed to believe in their HEA.

  • Treece
    2019-05-26 09:51

    Rating: 3 1/2 starsOh, Rollo, how much do I hate thee? Let me count the ways...It's been a long time since I despised a character. Rollo gets brownie points and pie for my hatred of him. He is no hero. The fact that he is Kate's love interest is disgusting and incomprehensible. Ms. Holt did a fantastic job of character development. For him, at least.As for Kate, the way she was depicted, there is NO way she would have ever fallen in love with this scumbag. She would have used him for his help, NEVER told him her plans, and vanished. Sometimes Kate is written as stupid, foolishly honest--when omission would be best--overly trusting and far too naive. Her strong-will and gifts place her beyond the reach of a man like Rollo. The ending spurts out like a flickering candle after the bonfire of revelation. The revelation was dark. It worked in all its insanity, gothic splendor and quagmire moors. Old skool melodrama at its finest.The narrative voice of Kate is entrancing. I lived for her arguments with Rollo, and her constant set-downs. But in the end, the author insisted on forcing Kate into a box. I wanted her to meet someone new and find true HEA. Not settle for the familiar devil who turned her life upside and gloated. Kate deserved far, far better than what she got which was Rollo. I enjoyed the plot twist but the ending wasn't so happy for Kate, only Rollo. He got everything he wanted. The ruthless bastard.

  • Nenia ✨ Queen of Literary Trash, Protector of Out-of-Print Gems, Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Mother of Smut, the Unrepentant, Breaker of Convention ✨ Campbell
    2019-06-05 09:55

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || PinterestVictoria Holt is the book equivalent of a bag of Bernie Bott's Every Flavor Beans. On the one hand, you could find yourself with the crisp tartness of green apple, the sweet but satisfying blueberry, or the odd but intriguing black pepper. On the other hand, you could just as easily find yourself with one of the earwax or vomit flavors. And this book, THE DEMON LOVER, is definitely vomit flavored.**WARNING: SPOILERS***Kate Collison comes from a long line of artists, all of whom go by the initials KC when they sign their paintings. Her father, Kendal Collison, is widely renowned, but slowly and tragically losing his sight due to cataracts that are forming in his eyes. Since he has no son to carry out his work, his desire is that Kate follow in his footsteps, and what better way to start than to help him with his latest commission - a set of wedding miniatures for a baron and a princess?Kate and her father go to the baron's castle, and are greeted with some surprise because, good lord, a woman?! Their ruse is that Kate is helping her elderly father get around, because both of them know that a paining done by a woman carries the risk of stigma from sexist tradionalists. So the baron sits for Kate's father while Kate watches and takes careful notes of his face so that she can complete the finer details of the miniature in the privacy of her chambers. I liked the opening sequence of this book quite a bit - the relationship between Kate and her father, the description of the artist's process, and her banter with the baron were all very well done, & in line with what I expect from this author.Of course, it turns out that the baron knew all along what Kate & her father were doing - and not only that, but he was sneaking into her rooms to study the miniature even though they asked him not to look until it was finished. The baron is so proud and self-centered and arrogant, that Kate takes an immediate dislike to him, although she feels conflicted about these feelings because he's totally cool with the fact that she's a female artist and a word from him ends up making her a success, too. Also, there's a silver lining in the form of his cousin, Bertrand, who is everything the baron is not - young, thoughtful, classically handsome, considerate, kind...Kate ends up falling for him on the spot, and the two plan to be married, even, except the baron doesn't go in for that. No, he wants Bertrand to marry his cast-off mistress, Nicole, who is of no use to him now that he is married. Bertrand expresses rage that the baron wants to give him his sloppy seconds, and says that he doesn't want to marry a woman he knows the baron has slept with, because he'll always think of his baron and wife together...ew.They plan to elope in France, which is where the princess lives that is going to marry the baron. Kate ends up befriending the princess Marie-Claude, who has a stubborn streak a mile wide and is ambivalent about marrying the baron, not the least because she has a secret paramour on the side. As Kate is wandering around the streets of France, she is nearly kidnapped when coming out of a shop & escapes just in time. Then she is summoned by the baron (I forgot why - I think it's about the miniatures) - and goes back to his corner of the world, only to have the carriage wheel break. She stays with some of his help in their cabin, and has a lovely dinner, and a bottle of wine. Oh, and that wine? Drugged, by order of the baron. When Kate wakes up, she's locked up in a tower, naked, where the baron then proceeds to rape her for three days. Why? Because he wants to, and because he knows that his cousin, Bertrand, won't marry Kate if he knows that he got to her, first.This is pretty stomach-turning, but isn't exactly a stand-out event from what happens in other bodice rippers. If anything, it's tamer than some of the romances I've read, which can go into graphic detail (I'm recalling a gang-rape scene I read in a Catherine CoultIer novel). And at first, Kate deals with what happened to her fairly realistically. She frets about who to tell, and how her engagement with Bertrand is ruined, and pretty much flinches every time she hears about the baron or his name. Which is a lot, because, thanks to him, her success has neatly linked her name to his - something he gleefully takes credit for, as though her talent were all due to him. He's a repulsive man, plain and simple, and when Kate discovers that she's pregnant, she's extremely loath to go to her sickly and depressed father and not only shock him with the awful news, but also ask him for help.Luckily, help comes in the form of the baron's ex-mistress, Nicole, who lends her an apartment and studio in Paris for cheap and also helps her discreetly have the child. I liked Nicole a lot, and her friendship with Kate would have been quite wonderful...if she hadn't tried to persuade Kate to get back together with the baron at every given opportunity. I think if this had happened in a modern novel, I would have thrown the book across the room. I had to keep telling myself that this was a Victorian novel, and that conventions were different, and that even though the baron was her rapist, as a ruined woman with a child, Kate didn't really have a lot of options open to her. I told myself that, but it was still very hard to stomach.Then the baron comes back into her life again, this time by insinuating himself into the life of her son, and Kate doesn't find out until it's too late and the baron has already won him over by giving her an extravagant gift. War breaks out between France and Germany, and the baron ends up spiriting them both back to his castle, where he launches an all-out assault on Kate's shaky will, telling her that she secretly liked the rape and would love it if he did it again, and telling her how much he hates his wife and wishes she was dead (he gives a lovely speech about how is sickly and depressed wife doesn't even enjoy being alive, and so she would be doing them and herself a favor by taking herself from it). He talks about how much he hates the princess's son, William (who is a bastard), and how much he likes Kendal instead. And oh, yes, Kate should definitely become his mistress!When that doesn't work, he breaks the news to Kate's son, Kendal, that he's actually his father, and the boy, who is sad about the lack of a father figure in his life, is overjoyed. The baron throws presents, attention, and praise in the boy's way, so when Kate finally decides that she's had enough and that leaving would be best, her own son turns on her and refuses to leave. She's afraid to leave without her son, and the baron capitalizes on that. At one point, her son decides to run away because he doesn't want to leave the castle, and after she gets over her terror, she begins to wonder if maybe the baron encouraged him - or even helped him plan - to do this, due to certain uncanny conveniences in how the baron goes about rescuing him. While I'm reading this, I'm thinking, "Okay, there is no way this man can be a love interest. He doesn't regret the rape at all, or making Kate suffer. He's using her own child against her, while abusing the one he already has with neglect. This is NOT a romance, folks, in any sense of the term!" But no, Kate is falling hard and fast, even though she tells herself - repeatedly - that he is selfish and proud and absolutely no good for her.In the last act of the book, the princess finally dies, thus freeing the baron to marry Kate if she wishes, and Kate's stepmother and ex-housekeeper, Clare, makes a rather startling confession. I found myself blinking at the last page. I could not believe what happened, or why Kate chose this as a sign that everything was okay, and that the baron could be forgiven. I'm sorry, but what? How does that mitigate any of the abuse and manipulation? It's apples and oranges, you poor, dumb broad!I really enjoy Victoria Holt's work, but this was a crushing disappointment. Definitely vomit-flavored. I have an awful taste in the back of my throat that I feel the need to wash out with some Lisa Kleypas.1 star.

  • Mojca
    2019-06-07 03:10

    Kate Collison’s father, a famous miniaturist, is slowly losing his sight, so his daughter agrees to paint the portrait of Baron de Ceteville for him. All hush-hush, of course, because of course women don’t possess the same talent as men.But the Baron discovers the ruse and, lover of art as he is, agrees to pay their fee, and arranges for Kate to paint his fiancée’s portrait as well, presenting her to the Parisian society, cementing Kate’s reputation as a miniaturist. But the Baron has other plans for the lovely Kate as well…Much more sinister plans, that will change both their lives…I’ve been a big fan of Victoria Holt for years and this is by far my favorite book by her. Nicely written, very-well crafted and paced, and though the conflict between hero and heroine starts with rape, which some deemed severely inappropriate (thus giving the book very low ratings), I find it — though I don’t condone the deed — refreshing and a fascinating twist to what could otherwise be just another template novel, plunging the reader into the vortex of mixed and opposing feelings. On one hand you cannot understand how Kate could actually continue to find the baron fascinating, how she could continue to be attracted to him after what he did to her, while on the other you cannot help but root for her to find happiness with the man she was never able to forget, despite what he did to her.Yes, rape is rape, and no "respectable" romance novel will feature it between hero and heroine, but it’s what makes this story that more realistic. That scene is the heart of the story and its turning point, and there are many nuances in it that become evident after a re-read or two. Trust me, not everything is as it seems in that scene, especially on the baron’s part.Yep. This book could be fodder for many a debate. I lLove it.

  • Sarah Mac
    2019-06-17 07:06

    One of the best examples of that rare breed -- the elusive, enticing, & utterly flamboyant Gothic Bodice Ripper, an unholy hybrid of two badass bygone genres. Read at your own risk, because it pulls no punches. >:) (N.B.: It's also one of Holt's best novels, regardless.)

  • Mermarie
    2019-05-22 03:08

    Edited: March 20th 2013I did enjoy this book - its goth ambiance and subtle hues explodes an imaginative mind with great, intangible delectability. However, approximately 100 pages from the end I felt Vickie just gave up and wanted this one wrapped up and done with. It felt as if Rollo & Kate did their lil' round & and around lovers confrontation, with few tidbits of action therein to keep the story from repeating the same sequence of caterwauling up until the end. The ending was sooo uneventful and disappointing, and left you hanging. It failed on the delivery there for such a high, energy packed novel. I bumped the rating half of a star because of the turret situation and how the story took a 360 out of nowhere, with little or no clues to have you suspect it was even coming. All in all, it was a good read and I'd recommend this one. What was written before the last 100 pages is definitely enough to make it a must-read. :D

  • Caro
    2019-05-27 05:47

    This book was very well written and the characters were very vividly portrayed, like all VH's books. If it wasn't for that, I'd give it one star. I HATED the hero. Think of the bad guy in movies, and you'll be thinking of Rollo. I don't understand how anyone could think rape is a good start for a romance, and that pretty much killed this book for me. I read it for the first time when I was twelve and I thought it was romantic. I read it again at fifteen and realized how awful the concept truly was.

  • Nicole
    2019-06-17 10:42

    I wanted to give this book three stars but had to upgrade it because of the end. THE END! What was Miss Holt thinking? I've seen others saying it was too unexpected and abrupt for them but isn't that how live is supposed to be sometimes? I think it was one of the best book endings I've ever seen.

  • Cassandra Dexter Colby
    2019-05-27 04:48

    Horrible. El protagonista es un violador. Un despropósito.

  • Cat The Curious
    2019-05-28 08:48

    I can't quite give this a 5. Although the book is very good and held my attention. The first half to middle part are the very best parts of this book. I did like the twist at the end. The hero here is more of the flawed type which I prefer rather than the cookie cutter super sweet type. He can be a bit of a villain which reminds me a little of The Silver Devil. Give me more like that. I don't know why I like the flawed love interests. I guess they make it more exciting.

  • Diane Lynn
    2019-06-02 05:55

    So different from other Holt books I have read. It is hard for me to summarize without giving away some of the story. In short, Kate Collison accompanies her father, famous miniature painter Kendal Collison, to France. He has been summoned by the Baron de Centeville to paint a miniature of himself and one of his fiancee, the Princesse de Crespigny. Well one thing leads to another and Kate ends up doing the painting. What starts as a little trickery leads to much more. There is a big event that happens in the 4th chapter which has many consequences. How Kate deals with the fallout was so interesting to me. I loved the castle, the siege of Paris, Notre Dame Cathedral and those dastardly gargoyles, and the information on miniature painting. There is a twist at the end and while I did see it coming, I still enjoyed reading how it all played out.One thing I didn't like so much was some of the repetition that happened in the second half of the book. How many times did I have to hear Kate say, (view spoiler)["You married her for her royal blood," or "You take what you want, forgetting there are other people involved, people with feelings," or the worst of all,"Perhaps I should go back to England. No, I can't. Yes, we must. But I can't" (hide spoiler)] We heard these comments over and over.Overall, I really did enjoy this book. It may not be for the faint of heart, which I usually am, but I still enjoyed it. I even liked (view spoiler)[the Baron (hide spoiler)] in the end.

  • Phair
    2019-05-21 09:57

    Back in the 60s I discovered "grown up" books with Victoria Holt (I think Bride of Pendorric was my first), Dorothy Eden, Mary Stewart & Phyllis Whitney and devoured them all as well as their many gothic and romantic suspense clones before moving on for a time to the bodice ripping historical romances that followed. Demon Lover- a later book by Holt which I revisited in audio book was an example (albeit a tame one) of the rape leads to love plots that were common at the time. Rather than swooning over the forceful hero, this time I kept thinking of ways the heroine could have gotten revenge on the conceited ass. The actual conclusion seemed contrived. In this case you really can't go home again.

  • Crystal
    2019-06-05 06:43

    consider this a spoiler of sorts--I don't remember the plot very clearly, other than that the main character was an artist, and that the "hero" of the piece kidnapped her and raped her repeatedly over a period of several days to keep her from marrying someone else, so he could have her as his mistress. it's hard to find that romantic. Even back in my gothic romance heyday, I found it troublesome. Now I doubt I could read the book again. very irresponsible and unappealing writing. it negated much of what is good about Victoria Holt's writing style in this book.

  • L. (Slay the meaty ones!)
    2019-06-08 06:48

    Years ago I had a Holt Thang and set about reading all her books. This is my least favorite for the reasons already pointed out in other reviews. The "hero" is a complete *$$, does terrible things to the heroine, and yet she still goes to him in the end. I so wanted to reach into the pages and shake some sense into her, then I wanted to shake Victoria Holt.

  • Roub
    2019-06-07 03:08

    lol what an ending !i had a huge laugh !!very loud laugh at dat ! the book deserved a 5 star 4 dat only. it's a must read.i enjoyed the book very much n did not miss one page ! it was captivating, yet i rated it only 1 star bcoz this was no romance. it's sadistic n obscene 4 kate 2 fall in love wid rollo who abducted her n raped her during 3 days !! i can't get over the fact. it's very archaic n like some very old movies i watched. this was no forced seduction but true rape. he did dat only 2 spite his cousin who was in love wid kate n refused 2 marry nicole bcoz nicole had been rollo's mistress. so he set out 2 rape the cousin's intended bride, that is kate. he also had the effrontery 2 invite the mentioned cousin 2 the bedroom where kate laid naked after his unwanted attentions n ministrations. then he went on 2 marry his princess, a blue blood wife. all along he knew kate was pregnant but he went off bcoz he wanted pure blood heirs wid his princess!! the latter was no virgin n gave him a bastard, so he was disillusioned . i dunt think he was in love wid kate. he loved his son n it was past time he made a family n kate was the right woman, dats it. no romance, i mean no need 2 see it through rose coloured glasses

  • Julienne
    2019-06-11 09:51

    If I could give this less than one star I would. I went into this book expecting the normal Victoria Holt gothic romance with some suspense and a happy ending. What I got was a rape and Stockholm syndrome: a woman's "happy" ending with her abuser. I cannot stress enough how angry it makes me when rape and abuse are downplayed and made to seem as an act of love; they are acts of control. VH missed the mark by a million miles on this one.

  • Gillian
    2019-06-06 07:01

    I don't have a problem with the writing style, I have a problem with the story. The whole **spoiler alert** rape leading, inexplicably (loads of words and pages, but truly inexplicably) to love thing really bugged me. ** end spoiler** The ending is laugh-out-loud absurd. Completely, utterly ridiculous. I don't normally read this type of book, and I honestly don't remember how it ended up on my radar, but even if I was a huge Victoria Holt fan, I couldn't recommend this to anyone.

  • Jd Aeryth
    2019-06-08 10:57

    No one should EVER read this book. In this book, a man kidnaps a woman, rapes her for days on end, and then, disgustingly and impossibly, she falls in love with and marries him. I love all the other Victoria Holt books - they're delightful escapist joy, but I won't have this book in my house.

  • Misfit
    2019-05-28 02:49

    Well now, that was a twist.

  • Shandra
    2019-06-03 04:04

    This is the only Victoria Holt book that every disappointed me. I read them voraciously as a teenager and beyond (I still love a good Gothic), and I remember my mother warning me that I might not want to read this one, as she said it was quite "adult". (I was probably 13 or 14) Turns out, she was right, I was quite angry and unhappy with it. This book features a great, independent female artist...I will put up a spoiler flag here, though many people have already given it away without warning in other reviews.**spoiler**... who falls in love with her rapist. Unbelievable. I just did not, and still do not, get the appeal there. He violated her trust, he was an arrogant ass even before that, and she still fell in love with him. Ugh. Not okay, Victoria, not ok.

  • Ashleigh Oldfield
    2019-05-23 09:43

    This story was very different from Holt's other titles. Set in Paris around the time of the Battle for Paris, a young female artist tries to make her way in the world. She finds a patron in a dangerous Baron, who is her making as well as her downfall. Although I always figure out the twist in Holt's books, this one took me longer than usual to figure out. The break from the usual formula was enjoyable and I loved reading about the French countryside and culture. A great little recreational read with a little bit of history thrown in.

  • LuvGirl
    2019-06-15 03:09

    I don't particularly like beauty and the beast story lines and I didn't enjoy the book because of it. The hero wasn't very appealing to my senses. The writing is well done and the unconventional un-pc hero was fun for a while, but I wasn't interested in him enough as a hero to really appreciate the book fully. Hopefully I'll have better luck with my next VH. 2.5 stars

  • Farah Bader
    2019-06-10 08:02

    Very disturbing book. My friends who have read manga and Japanese literature have kindly informed me that many of the elements in this story are similar in plot. If anyone has any thoughts on this supposed correlation, I would be glad to hear it.

  • Neja
    2019-06-16 08:50

    Books written by Victoria Holt are so cheesy, but sometimes that's exactly what you need. I've read a loooot of her books when I was 14/15 years old..that was the last time I've read them. I absolutely loved them at the time. I'm thinking of reading one of her books just for the old times sake! =)