Review: Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain

Monday, February 28

Title:  Moonstruck Madness*
Author: Laurie McBain
Series: Dominick series #1
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher:Sourcebooks Casablanca
Format: trade size paperback & digital ebook
Date/Year:  February 2011 (re-issue)  originally published in 1977
Reviewed by: Booklover1335

*This book was provided to me by the publisher for review


Summary from the publisher:

She’s one thing by day, something else altogether by night…

After escaping the slaughter of her clan at a young age, Scottish noblewoman Sabrina Verrick provides for her siblings by living a double life, until the night she encounters the Duke, and her secret and all she holds dear is threatened…

He’s so disillusioned, he’s completely vulnerable…

With his inheritance at stake, Lucien, Duke of Camareigh, sets a trap for the Scottish beauty with the piercing violet eyes, never imagining what will happen when the trap is sprung…

As their lives become irreversibly entangled, Lucien and Sabrina become each other’s biggest threat, as well as their only salvation…

My Musings:

I’ve really enjoyed some of the older romances that are being republished today.  It allows newer romance readers like me to discover some remarkable romance reads that are truly timeless.  It’s how I first discovered Laura Kinsale, but before accepting any offer to review a book I check it out the best that I can.  I like to read the back cover copy, and an excerpt if I can to see if it might be something that I would enjoy reading...after all time is short, and no one likes to waste their precious reading time.  Luckily with a book that is being republished it’s easy enough to find reviews and opinions so I was fairly confident that Moonstruck Madness would be a book I would enjoy reading because of all of the glowing recommendations...and after all the book sold over a million copies back in 1977 so it should be a great read, right?  Unfortunately, all of my somewhat careful vetting let me down this time.

Moonstruck Madness follows the life of Sabrina Verrick, granddaughter to a Scottish Laird, and daughter to an English Marquis.  Her story begins during the Jacobite rising in Scotland where she witnesses the defeat of her grandfather and his men and she and her two siblings along with an Aunt flee Scotland to return to England to escape most certain death, only to find an impoverished and neglected estate where they have to do whatever they can in order to provide for themselves.

At a young age Sabrina finds herself the sole provider for her family due to the absence and negligence of the only parent she has left who they haven’t seen for over twelve years.  As a young woman of spirit and daring personality she creates a persona of “Bonnie Charlie” who takes from the rich who can afford it, and gives to the poor who need it, but risks the hangman’s noose every time she masquerades as the thief.  While risky, she’s never felt truly in danger until she robs the wrong man, Lucien, the Duke of Camareigh who becomes single mindedly determined to catch the thief who has been terrorizing the neighborhood.

Lucien is a man resigned to the fate of marrying for reasons other than love in order to gain the inheritance that his grandmother is holding ransom.  He is a man that probably suffers ennui like most titled aristocrats, until he encounters “Bonnie Charlie”.  His plans for Bonnie Charlie alter when he discovers that “Charlie” is not a young lad, but in fact a beautiful young woman.  A seduction ensues, and circumstances find the two married despite their love/hate relationship while escaping death more than once.

Moonstruck Madness has a much larger scope than most romances that are being written and published today.  And there are times that I really miss that, but in this case I felt that the plot of the entire story was more important than the characters that the story was about.  Through the course of the story it touched on so many things that I didn’t feel that any of them were adequately explored.

I also had issues with some of the transitions and pacing of the story.  At times it felt that some things took too long to develop, but other times I felt that feelings or insight into a character moved too rapidly or were overlooked and I found myself stopping and re-reading passages thinking that I must have missed something, only to find that I had not which is why I felt that I was reading the book through Google preview, where certain sections or passages have been deleted because of what felt like a disjointed writing style.  For instance, within a span on only 12 pages the hero of the story goes from being the enemy, to the heroine seducing him to aid in her escape, then finding that she loves him after one night of making love to him with little to no insight into her feelings and why they changed so abruptly.  The reader fully understands her reasons for hating him (even though that is a strong word to use), and I never could grasp why she loved him especially since neither of their motives had altered or changed.

Sabrina and Lucien’s entire love story was a lesson in love and hate being closely related emotions and I really missed some of the internal dialogue and insight into what these characters might be thinking or feeling which you generally get in romances that are being written today.  If the story would have been written today pages and pages would have more than likely been cut from the beginning.  Focusing less on her ties to Scotland, which really only served as her inspiration for “Bonnie Charlie”, and more on her non existent relationship with her father.  More of the heroine’s feelings would have been expressed instead of just in the actions that she took. The villains, who were fantastically self centered and evil, would have been allowed to be exceptionally bad, then dealt with adequately. 

As it stands, I don’t think Moonstruck Madness translates well in the 21st century.  I also don’t think it will appeal to as many of today’s romance readers in the same way it did to readers in the 1970’s  despite some of the reviews you may have read.  Some readers harbor a soft spot for it because it was one of the first romances that they read, but as a reader looking at it without sentimentality; I sadly found it lacking emotion, as well as character depth and growth. And while Laurie McBain created a superb cast of characters and supporting characters I didn’t feel that any of them were explored and written to their full potential as a book being published today.  I really wanted to like Moonstruck Madness, and if I just looked at the overall plot of the story the idea of it is actually very good, but where it let me down was with the hero and the heroine and the reasons why they love one another.  I never did fully understand the love in this romance.  And for me, that is the most important thing.

Ratings:

Overall:  2.75 stars
Sensuality level:  2.0

For a complete understanding and definition of the ratings at Seductive Musings, click here

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