Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Hero: Nicholas Challoner
Heroine: Alannah Finderne
Date of Publication: July 25, 1983
Started On: August 22, 2021
Finished On: September 01, 2021
The Guarded Heart by Robyn Donald is certainly a fitting title for a book that features a widowed hero who is determined that he would exact his revenge by forcing the woman responsible for the untimely death of his wife and unborn child into a marriage with him.
Only in her wildest dreams or nightmares rather, would 19 year old Alannah Finderne have ever thought that she would end up tying the knot with Nicholas Challoner, the man whose mere gaze chills her to her very core. But forced into a marriage with him because of the circumstances, Alannah nevertheless has a stark choice before her; make herself miserable by denying what Nicholas invokes in her, or surrender.
Both Alannah and Nicholas are intensely proud characters, stubborn to a fault, and as a result drives each other crazy – mostly not in a good way. But I found the story as it developed to be an interesting one nevertheless, realistic too if you ask me. How would I react if I were forced to marry a man, the demise of the love of whose life I was responsible for? Not to mention the age gap, the fact that the man loathes my very existence and marries me just so that he could have children with me, and making suffer would be an added bonus while at it? I guess I too would come out with my guns blazing, if I were not a heroine of the doormat variety.
The Guarded Heart is the first novel that I can recall, where the hero actually slaps the heroine – usually it is the other way around because the hero is being an ass; and I guess if we apply the same principles here, the heroine was also being rather cruel at that point. Makes me question as to why I accept it at face value when the heroine slaps the hero but I have a tough time reconciling with the fact when the heroine is on the receiving end. Goes to show that we all carry our prejudices that spills over every now and then.
Nicholas proves to be an interesting character, whose emotions we have to gauge through the observations that the heroine makes along the way. I would have liked it a bit better if I saw a bit more of those tightly guarded emotions from Nicholas that would have made the story more heartwarming when all was said and done.
Given that this story was first published when I was just over a year old, reading this almost 38 years later did not detract from the enjoyment factor – I am after all a masochist in my reading preferences; the more pain a story makes me go through, the better I like it.
Recommended for fans of old Harlequin romances and fans of Robyn Donald.
Final Verdict: The Guarded Heart often makes you want to just shake the main protagonists, but underneath all that stubbornness lies hearts that are brimming with love, the unfolding of which I enjoyed!
Shivers racked her. Blindly, sensually, she ran her hands from his waist to his shoulders, felt with bitter delight the sudden tensing of his muscles and explored further, the tips of her fingers delicately stroking the muscles on his arms, the smooth heated skin across his back.
He groaned her name, his mouth hot against the turgid peak of her breast, and she sighed raggedly and began to move beneath him, undulating in a way that instinct told her would further inflame him.
His hands slid to her hips; when they paused she opened tortured eyes and saw reflected in his face the agony and need that had her in its grip. And with the first hard thrust of his body the world exploded, sensation piled on sensation so that beneath her eyelids there was a sunburst of colour and she was falling, falling into its vortex, sobbing, gasping, her body racked by an ecstasy so far beyond her hidden fantasies that she thought she might die.
Very slowly she reached out a finger and touched the jewel, then pushed it to one side as she got up from the bed. When Andrew was tucked in beneath the mosquito netting she came back, and picked the beautiful thing up. Nicholas watched her through heavy-lidded eyes, his mouth compressed and grim.
‘Put it on me,’ she said huskily, and turned her back to him, brushing her curls forward to leave the vulnerable nape of her neck bare.
His fingers barely touched her skin, but she shivered as she faced him.
‘How does it look?’ she asked.
Anger glittered in his glance and there was a pallor around his mouth that warned her she was pushing him very close to the edge. He didn’t so much as glance at the necklace; from beneath a frown his gaze was fixed on her as though he would like to hurt her.
She knew a moment’s fear before he said slowly, thickly, ‘Like you. Beautiful, making no concessions, setting its own standards.’
‘Tell me you love me,’ he demanded, moving so that he loomed over her, his lips only a fraction away from hers.
‘I love you—I love you with everything I am. Nick—please—’
‘And that you want me.’ He was merciless, his expression so ferociously controlled that for a moment she was afraid.
‘Oh, God, I want you.’ Tears glazed her eyes. She was hypnotised by her own sensuality. Twisting, writhing beneath him, she slid her hands to his hips, pulling him down to her. ‘I love you so much I could die for you,’ she groaned.