Thursday, November 05, 2009

Feature Review: "Captive of Sin," By Anna Campbell

By Melanie Murray, RBTB Correspondent

I’ve been a goner for fairy tales since I was a child, dressing as Cinderella and searching my backyard for talking mice. (I never found one; we had a very efficient cat). These days, like many former fans, I get my fix for happy endings from historical romances. The beauty of these modern fables is that we often get to find out what happens after the handsome stranger saves the helpless lady. And it can be absolutely thrilling when, as Julia Roberts says at the end of “Pretty Woman,” the heroine rescues the hero right back.

In Anna Campbell’s “Captive of Sin,” there’s a good, healthy amount of danger to go around. What starts as a standard damsel-in-distress tale quickly deepens into the kind of gripping, only-love-can-pull-this-hot-man-from-the-edge-of-emotional-disaster story that makes the main characters seem like well-matched equals. Just like in “Pretty Woman,” they need each other in order to survive. Well, they might survive without one another, but their lives wouldn’t be as joyful.

That might be where the “Pretty Woman” comparisons end. The heroine Charis Weston isn’t a working girl – far from it. A twenty-year-old heiress whose future is in the hands of her two vicious stepbrothers, Charis makes an unplanned escape from their restrictive and damaging guardianship. She’s without money, means of transportation or even a destination in mind when England’s greatest hero, Sir Gideon Trevithick, discovers her at a desolate moment.

At first, Gideon is the very picture of the dashing prince: tall, dark, commanding, cool under pressure, willing to set aside his plans for a desperate woman he barely knows. Charis falls for him immediately, and her feelings only deepen when Gideon dramatically and decisively helps her elude her brothers’ clutches.

But there’s more to Gideon than meets the eye. He’s just returned to England. People refer to him as a hero, yet he has trouble accepting their praise. He won’t speak to Charis of where he’s been, or the experiences that clearly haunt him. And he’s full of contradictions: at once willing to protect her and seemingly stirred by her beauty, but distant and snappish if Charis gets too close, either physically or emotionally.

And this is where the fairy tale fulfills many of our adult demands: Charis refuses to let Gideon fester in despair and solitude. She wants a life full of love and children, and she’s determined to have it with him, no matter how hard it will be to make it work.

Anna Campbell creates a heart wrenching story that pits Charis’ youthful belief in love against Gideon’s jaded lack of hope. And the result is an emotionally satisfying, sensual push-and-pull between two headstrong characters you can’t help but root for. You will want that happy ending, both for Charis and Gideon. But to find out how Charis rescues Gideon right back, you’ll have to --

Buy the book.

Do you like stories where the hero is the one who needs to be saved? What are your favorites? And what fairy tale clichés do you think make for the very best romances?
Tomorrow: Caridad Pineiro GuestBlogs!


Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Melanie, that's a lovely review. Thank you! Poor Gid, he does go through the wringer, doesn't he?

Hey, I used to look for mermaids. Was absolutely convinced they existed. Sigh. I never found one either. Perhaps they were off catching talking mice!

Hey, Bellas and Michelle! Waving madly from down here in Australia!

Mitzi H. said...

I'm not the greatest fan of books where the Hero is weak....I prefer my Heroes to be strong and confident....And teamed up with a feisty female...I enjoy lots of head to head dialogue and hot sex (preferably before page 200). Hehehe.

Tempt The Devil is one of the best books I've read in years!!!

Although I prefer those types of romance stories, I do like the others as well....I just have to be in the right mood to read them.

pjpuppymom said...

I love tortured heroes (provided they eventually get their hea), especially when they're created by someone as talented as the wonderful Anna Campbell. I'm about halfway through Captive of Sin and loving it!

Strong, alpha males in real life are felled by PTSD, accidents, strokes and other disabling illnesses and saved by their heroines all the time. (I know because I've lived it.) Why not in the books we love to read too?

Myrin said...

Argh, I really, really want to start COS right now (I can see it. This extremely sexy guy on the cover is winking at me. He wants me to grab him. It. The book. Whatever.)! But I've got a picture to paint (for my arts lessons). But hey, that's the perfect incentive to finally finish it. Oh my, I'm so clever! *g*

Ooooh, I'm a sucker for stories where the hero must be saved. Simply Love by Mary Balogh comes to mind. Sydnam needs a good bit of saving, and he needs it desperately. Or Wicked Deeds On A Winter's Night by Kresley Cole. Bowen has pined for almost two centuries. If that isn't a hero who needs to be saved then I don't know who is!

Did you realize that, whereas the heroine is mostly saved damsel-in-distress-y (oh my gosh, what grammatical form is that?), like, physically, saving the hero mostly is more a mind-thing? Although I'd really, really love to have the heroine rescue the hero from ... don't know, an abduction, maybe?

amy kennedy said...

I love 'em too. Mitzi, I don't see a hero who needs to be saved as week -- just damaged/tortured like PJ said.

Anna! Hello yourself, I'm ashamed to say, I won this book and still haven't read it -- but it teases me as well LisaK...come, read me...

Great review Melanie -- Mom and I used to look for fairies in our backyard.

pjpuppymom said...

Hi Melanie! (waving)

I was just zipping through earlier and forgot to say "Welcome to the RBTB team!" Great to have you over here!


Monica Burns said...

I love a hero who's strong and yet needs to be rescued from himself or from the danger of going without love for the rest of his life.

As for fairy tales, I LOVE Beauty and the Beast stories. I really need to write one that's Male Beauty and Female Beast story. LOL

Monica Burns said...

Oh!! And I forgot to say how much I'm looking forward to reading Anna's latest. I'm saving it and a couple of others to read over the holidays when I've met yet another deadline.

Becke Davis said...

Anna - If I was a hero (or heroine) and knew you were going to write a story about me, my first instinct would be to run for the hills. After all, no one can torture characters the way you can.

On the other hand, I'd probably stick around knowing that there was an upside to having you write my story -- finding the perfect match, despite the clashes sure to come. And, of course, the passion that will be the reward for all that suffering.

Anna has been on my must-read list since I picked up Claiming the Courtesan and Untouched in two consecutive days about two years ago. I've been hooked on her -- and on the historical romance genre -- ever since.

And Anna and Melanie have done a good job of ensuring my TBR pile will be a miniature Mt. Everest for the foreseeable future, even if I read day and night.

Great review, Melanie. And Anna - another wonderful book!

Becke Davis said...

And I bet that should have said, "If I WERE a hero." Melanie, you were an editor -- I'm sure you know the answer to that one. Was/were gets me every time.

Melanie Murray said...

Anna! I loved the book and am glad that poor Gideon got a happy ending.

Mermaids! Had I lived near water, I definitely would've either searched for them or pretended I was one. (As you all can tell, I had a healthy imagination as a girl.)

Mitzi: COS might surprise you. The hero has certainly gone through something that's affected him but he's absolutely not weak.

Melanie Murray said...

PJ: Great insight there. That's what's so appealing about Anna's heroes: they're very true-to-life, three-dimensional beings. Strong yet human.

Lisa: Kresley Cole does put some of her heroes through the ringer, no? Also Gena Showalter - who is it, Maddox? Is he the one who bears torture every night? And, keep reading. You're going to like the ending.

Hi Amy! Thank you! I looked for fairies, too. We had a wooded lot next to my house and I was convinced there were beings in there like elfs and fairies and talking mice.

Becke Davis said...

I just wanted to be Nancy Drew. I would have investigated the case of the Cat that Ate Cinderella's Mice for you. I was interested in the whole Nancy Drew/Ned Nickerson thing but, let's face it, Ned sucked as a hero. He wasn't tortured at all.

The Reading Frenzy said...

Ooh Melanie, great article. And you force me to admit that I haven't partaken of Anna yet, but with those abs, baby I'm there.
Now I love when the rake needs to be saved and Susan Wiggs recently re-released Tudor Rose trilogy comes to mind where all three women are strong heroines and the heros are just as strong but in the end need their ladies to rescue them.
Also, though not historical JR Ward's BDB series comes to mind too. Those bros all need saving big time.
Ciao Bellas

Becke Davis said...

Anna must have an in with the cover models -- she always gets the hotties on her books! My only complaint with this guy, lovely as his chest is, was that Gideon was not hairless. And I liked that about him.

Eva Gale said...

Emotional disater?!

Now I HAVE to get it.

Melanie Murray said...

Monica: I love heroes who need to be saved from themselves, too! And Beauty & the Beast stories are great; they always involve a scary mansion of some type and I love that.

Becke: You are Anna's best PR person, I swear! I promise to make this a no-editing zone. It's hard for me but I'll try. :-)

Deb: Your TBR pile must rival Becke's. It must! You have such a treat waiting for you in Anna's books. I think you'll love them.

Myrin said...

Melanie, how could I have forgotten poor Maddox? Ms Showalter sure knows how to let her heroes suffer; I cried at the end of every single one of her books (save the last one, thank god. My mum almost got an apoplexy, everytime she looked into my room she was like: "What? You're cryin' again???") And Paris, sweet darling Paris. I so want him to get his HEA soon (I know that won't happen until in four books or so, but a girl has dreams...)!

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buona sera, Bellas, and grazie mille, Melanie for this fab debut feature! I love how you mention that historicals take the place of fairytales for you; don't think I'd thought of it that way before...

I'm popping in for a couple secs to mention Anna's "Captive of Sin" was among PWs Best Books of 2009, at the top of the Mass Market list! Congratulazione, Miss Anna!

Now if we only could get PW to make an actual Romance category, rather than the title that seems to be the one that won out over Pulp Fiction by default...

Melanie Murray said...

Paris is one of those heroes - when his book comes out, watch out! Funny about the crying, Lisa. I love when books get to you like that.

Michelle: how irritating is the catch-all mass market category? As for the fairy tale comparison, part of the appeal of historicals for me is that they have all the trappings that I loved in my fairy tales. The clothes, the princes (men with titles!), and I think I may have talked a time or two about how I like the carriages.

Vanessa Kelly said...

What Monica said. Love the hero who needs to be saved from himself, or a lifetime of alpha male solitude.

Love Beauty and the Beast stories, too.

Oh, and I love Anna's books!

Never found any talking mice in my backyard. Maybe a rat, or two.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, thanks, guys, for all these lovely words!

Michelle, I'm still in a daze over the Publishers Weekly thing! Wow! It was a big day in Campbellandia, I can tell you! ;-) Thanks for the shout out!

susan said...

I like strong heroes and also like when both parties can help each other. I recently watch the old movie Scissorhands and after watching that movie you had to fall in love with Eddie..he sure was good after he could learn to control his hands. The Avon lady was his hero and he ended up doing great things. susan L.