Erin’s Review of Love and Splendor by Patricia Hagan
(Retro) Historical romance published by Samhain Publishing on April 17, 2012
When Dani Coltrane flees to Paris, she leaves behind heartache and pain, and vows no man will ever control her. But then the proud heiress to the Coltrane dynasty meets the dashing nobleman, Drake, and her determination is rocked. Banished from Imperial Russia to roam the glittering capitals of Europe, he has an eye for beautiful art and beautiful women. Dani Coltrane possesses both a painting he covets and a loveliness he can’t resist. Drake is determined to make these treasures his.
From the sumptuous salons of Europe to the fabulous court of the Russian Empire, from the dark cellars of a chateau in Monaco to a deserted, danger-ridden palace, Drake pursues the headstrong and illusive woman. And as his cold obsession turns to soul-searching love, Dani’s resistance melts…until they are swept toward a stunning confrontation with destiny and the triumph of a love dazzling with splendor.
This book caught my interest due to the Faberge plot line. There is not much historical romance based in Russia or around the Romanovs, but it is a time period that I really enjoy reading about. I didn’t realize when picking up the book that it is one of a series, but that did become readily apparent upon reading.
Dani Coltrane is a spoiled nineteen year old reconnecting with her father and stepmother after her tumultuous past. She is suspicious of anyone trying to manipulate her and wants to exert total independence. The problem being she does not understand what independence actually means and she is constantly making selfish decisions in the name of independence. In fact she’s not far off what I imagine many 18-22 year old girls today can act like.
Drake is a Russian playboy, for lack of a better description. He has spent the last ten years or so in exile from Mother Russia and searching for the key to restoring his family honor (by finding the Faberge Egg). He is a womanizer and his moral code is pretty loose believing that behavior is justified so long as the intentions are good. He’s a snake that you want to like because you think he can change and grow up, but deep down you know it’s not true.
The best way to describe this book is Dynasty meets Jerry Springer. The author spends inordinate amounts of time describing how elegant, cultured, and sophisticated this family and their associates are only to have them open their mouths and act completely opposite. Dani can be shrew, demanding, and bratty. You expect Drake to be extremely refined, and at times he is. While other times he’s a complete ass. Both of them are oblivious to how their actions are seen or the havoc they cause, or they are just to rich to care. While atypically,you do not meet the hero until about 15-20% through the book, which was okay given how she presented the start of the story. But from there until about 75% through the book was horrible, three ring circus mess that seemed to go on forever.
There was no need for the Coly/Lily subplot line at all. It added nothing to the story except making me hate all the characters. Dani for being so wishy washy and such a teen. Lily was just horrendous and I absolutely expected a hair pulling cat fight between the two at some point. But even worse, the author perpetrated the myth that men just can’t control themselves, sexually, around any slightly attractive and willing woman. The only fairly explicit sex scene in the book is Drake’s running dialogue of how much he can’t stand Lily, how much he dislikes her and doesn’t want to do this, how he thinks Dani may be the one, all while he’s pounding away at Lily. Of course, this was a repeat of Colt’s inability to control himself around Lily either, but at least he thought he liked her. If your going to have the hero of the novel be unfaithful, at least let it be for a better reason then he had some slight desire, she was there, and well I just can’t stop myself.
The author gets around to pushing the actual plot of the story in the last 25% of the novel. This entire plot is extremely rushed and ends up being an afterthought in the novel. Also, Dani and Drake finally coming together is so shallow. He tells her his family story and she forgives his lying cheating ways. She does so, in spite of him currently lying to both her and Colt. All in all, the entire romance lacked maturity. It held the flavor that rich and beautiful (or handsome) was all that was needed to make a couple happy. This couple lack any depth and are barely tolerable let alone sympathetic or romantic.
Several times I almost gave up on this book. I started skimming at about 55-60% through just because I did want to know what happened to the egg. I half expected that plot to roll over to another book when it still had not been barely mentioned three quarters through the book. The resulting ending was unsatisfying and I wish I hadn’t bothered reading on. It would have saved me from being disgusted with both couples.