When I picked up Jess Michaels’ Taboo, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve accepted that most romance novels are formulaic to a painful degree, and I was just looking for a nice diversion.
The story: Cassandra Mannings and Nathan Manning, the Earl of Blackhearth, has a past. And that’s Past, with a capital P. Nathan’s pretty bitter about what happened to their young, innocent romance, while Cassandra just wants to forget it all.
During their years apart, Cassandra has made a name for herself as a tailor of repute to the ladies of the ton; she has also become a mistress to several noblemen — something which irks Nathan to no end.
Which is why he threatens to ruin her success unless she complies with his demands….
What caught your attention? The cover. Okay, that’s half the truth. (Tis a nice cover, no? Those “men ravishing half naked ladies” covers are such turn offs.) It was also the fact that Cassandra was a seasoned mistress. I was getting tired of young, innocent, naive heroines who had to be “taught” by their beaus. Cassandra sounded like someone with a backbone, and the fact that she’s “experienced” puts her on a more equal footing with Nathan in that department.
Is it hot? Oh yeah. Cili padi hot.
What surprised you about the novel? Y’know, I was still expecting a pretty generic read, and in many ways Taboo is quite fairy tale-ish and eye roll-inducing, and some parts just too convenient and pat.
However, I was surprised by the genuine chemistry between Cassandra and Nathan. I was actually interested in finding out what f**ked up their relationship so many years ago. What actually happened between the two in the past is pretty standard stuff, however – you’ve probably read it in some romance book somewhere – but I enjoyed the interaction between the two. It was real, heart-felt and they had great chemistry.
Criticisms: Too short, and the overly saccharine ending … I don’t know, I just expected something different. Something a little more cynical, perhaps.