Review: Tall, Dark and Disreputable by Deb Marlowe

Friday, March 23

Title: Tall, Dark and Disreputable*
Author: Deb Marlowe
Series: N/A
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Harlequin
Format: paperback, E-book
Date/Year:  March 20, 2012
Reviewed by: Andrea

*This book was provided to the reviewer by the author in exchange for an honest review

Summary from the publisher:

Portia Tofton has always yearned for brooding Mateo Cardea. His dark good looks filled her girlish dreams—dreams that were cruelly shattered when Mateo rejected her hand in marriage.

Now Portia's home has been gambled away, and Mateo is the only man she can turn to. This time, however, she has in her possession something he wants—and she finds herself striking a deal with the devil himself!

Danger is all around—but Portia has no choice but to trust this man who once betrayed her….

My Musings:

Portia has lived her entire life with overbearing men telling her what to do.  Her father and brothers controlled her growing up, then in order to get away from them she marries a man she doesn’t love.  He turns out to be an abusive jerk but thankfully he dies a few years into their marriage, but not before gambling away Portia’s ancestral home in England.  Portia has had enough of letting men decide what is best for her and being let down, so now she is going to take charge of her own life and make her own decisions.   That’s a good choice if you ask me.

I’m not sure how I feel about Mateo.  I felt like I was told about his personality throughout the book but I never got to experience it for myself.  He was nice enough, seemed to be charming, and he was definitely sexy, but I never got a good feel for Mateo.  I would have liked the chance to form my own opinion of him rather than simply being told how wonderful he was.

This is one of those books that plunges you right into the storyline on page one without much explanation as to why it’s happening.  Throughout most of the book I was trying to figure out where all of it was leading.  It wasn’t the fun and mysterious mild confusion, it was more like an irritating and frustrating confusion because I had no idea what the hell was going on.  I’m easily irritated so maybe that’s just me. *shrug*  Anyway, I spent most of the book reading a bunch of different tidbits that didn’t seem related in any way.  About halfway through the book I picked up on enough glaringly obvious clues that I figured out the big mystery of the book.   At the end when I made it to the big reveal it turned out to be exactly what I had already figured out and there were no surprises, it was a let down.  I didn’t appreciate that Mateo had it figured out before and refused to let Portia in on it.  I couldn’t figure out how keeping that secret from her would have been beneficial in any way.  She has spent all this time trying to get away from men making decisions “for her own good” and she let that one go without even commenting on it. 

My biggest issue with the entire book was the relationship between Portia and Mateo.  Mateo has spent his adult life trying to avoid a marriage with Portia.  After spending time with her he realizes that she is the woman he could learn to love.  That’s never going to work, because right from the start he has made it very clear that he has one love in life and that’s the sea.  He gets depressed when he has to stay on land for any significant amount of time.  Portia’s is a gardener and landscaper.  It’s the one thing in life that gives her happiness and soothes her soul.  Her entire life’s work is put into the landscaping around her home.  This is an insurmountable obstacle in their relationship.  They both know that in order to be together one of them would have to give up their greatest passion in life.  The one constant throughout the entire book is that both of them are steadfast in refusing to give up what they love for romance.  I’m good with that, it makes sense to me.  Now, let’s skip to the last six pages of the book.  They have been separated one week and both are miserable.  I didn’t see or feel that misery, it’s just mentioned in one paragraph.  Anyway, they are so miserable that both of them decide that love is more important than anything else.  The both relinquish everything they hold dear and run off to find each other and live happily ever after... end of story.

At that point, the only thought going through my head was, “ WTF was that!?”  I just spent two hundred and seventy pages reading about how much Portia loved her home and land, while Mateo went on and on about how the sea called to his soul on a fundamental level.  I was totally getting that.  Now, six pages from the end I’m to believe that all that has been magically changed due to love?  I might have bought into that had I actually gotten to experience their love while together, or their misery while apart.  Did that happen?  No, I got two pages of “I care for you” (notice I said care, not love!)  when they were saying goodbye and one paragraph mentioning the misery they experienced the week they were apart.   Now I’m expected to believe they’re so completely in love that they can’t bear to be apart?  Sorry, I’m not buying that at all. 

There were little irritations for me throughout the book, but it was a pleasant enough read. Right up until the end I had hope that it would even turn out to be good.  Unfortunately, what should have been the climax of the story was rushed and clumsy which left me feeling disappointed.  Do you ever finish a book and wish you could have those hours of your life back?  That’s where I’m at with this one.  I didn’t hate the book, it just wasn’t worth the time it took to read it.


Overall: 2 stars
Sensuality level: 3.25

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Anonymous,  March 23, 2012 at 1:51 AM  

Even good authors have books that are less than stellar. This sounds like it may be one. It is disappointing to spend the time to read one and not enjoy it.
Thanks for the review.

Andrea March 23, 2012 at 7:09 AM  

Good point librarypat. Now that I think about it, even my favorite authors have books which I found disappointing.

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