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To Have and To Hold by Patricia Gaffney

To Have and To Hold

by Patricia Gaffney

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1901193,315 (3.99)3



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3.5 stars

Wow! Talk about deceiving covers. I don't mind a darker romance on occasion but I picked this up when I was looking for something tamer. Sure the blurb had me expecting an angsty read but I saw the pastels and the English country idyll on the front and thought it probably wouldn't be to heavy. Never, NEVER, was I expecting the sado masochism, incest, torture, bondage, forced seduction/rape and abuse that lies between the seemingly innocuous cover of this book. All I can say is if you're squeamish about abused heroines or if you believe that a good Knights armour should never become tarnished, then this is definitely not the book for you. Rachel gets the rough end of the stick (to put it mildly) for most of this book and Sebastion frequently behaved in ways that made me want to punch him. Having said all that, I personally found the story engrossing and the characters engaging. ( )
  Charli30902 | Jan 5, 2017 |
TL;DR - Many people think this is a wonderful Romance novel, I do not agree. It is a good book that you should consider reading, for reasons I will go into below.

So, I’m looking for some light-weight cheerful summer reading, and say to myself, hey! why don’t I pick up some Romance, you get a happily-ever-after with those right? Look at some blogs, pick a few from the lists, one of which is this Patricia Gaffney “To Have and To Hold”. It has a pretty estate pictured on the cover of the Kindle edition I have. Lots of sun! Looks light and cheerful.

First few pages I’m introduced to the “Hero” Sebastian Verlaine, I’m thinking, ‘oh he’s a little edgy, great, don’t want it too sappy’

Few more pages, ‘hmmm this is a bit dark isn’t it?’


Light read, not so much. Excellently written character study of a ’rake’, a charismatic, abusive, emotionally controlling rapist (reminiscent of Lovelace from[b:Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady|529243|Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady|Samuel Richardson|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1373639647s/529243.jpg|2767990]) is what I got.

The first half of the book did an incredible job of putting me in the head of a privileged member of the aristocracy. There is very little romanization of what many authors consider an idyllic time in history. The author touches upon the power disparity between the classes, how the lower classes go to prison for crimes the upper classes are never even charged with. We see how very vulnerable certain members of society are.

The last half of the book becomes more of a conventional romance, replete with a puppy and bubble bath.

We meet the heroine, a woman convicted of a crime who has no alternative but to accept work with Villian/Hero knowing full well there would be extra ‘duties’ e.g. multiple rapes.

It is here that I feel this book distinguishes itself. For the first half of the book it is made clear exactly how helpless and vulnerable Rachel is. We are also put inside Sebastian’s head and see how he plans his emotional and physical assaults.

Why in the world would anyone consider this a Romance? I guess some readers think the rapes are really ‘seductions’, but no, no, there is no ambiguity here. I was really surprised in 1995 this could still be considered a grey area. Sure, probably 1850 would have considered it a forceful seduction, but this is a Romance written for modern readers. Surely our concepts of consent have advanced since then?

Sebastian is a very interesting character and the book is worth reading (with trigger warnings) just for him. If you don’t mind your hero raping your heroine, then yes it might be romantic. ( )
  csmith0406 | Mar 18, 2016 |
Interesting plot with extreme key events that were riveting but the rest of the story had too many details and I skimmed a lot. I felt so sorry for the heroine and I'm not convinced the hero gave sufficient atonement. Rogue Viscount Sebastian hired ex-convict accused murderer Rachel as his housekeeper.
( )
  Dawn772 | Jan 29, 2015 |
I really had trouble with this story line and could barely finish the book, but I persisted. It was hard for me to get into it and Sebastian was so unlikeable at first. I cringed over the way he treated Rachel. Not really my cup of tea, much too dark and angsty and the spectre of what happened to Rachel by her husband just creeped me out too much. Obvious what the real story was, but I kept reading to the end to confirm it. By then, it seemed anticlimatic. ( )
  ktleyed | Nov 30, 2013 |
I'm moving this one off of the no-Kindle shelf because there is a Kindle version being issued on June 18, 2013. It's one of very few HRs on the 2010 AAR Top 100 list that I haven't read.
  LadyWesley | Sep 25, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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After spending years in prison for a crime she did not commit, Rachel Wade accepts the proposal of cynical Sebastian Verlaine, Viscount D'Aubrey, who offers her parole in exchange for becoming his mistress.

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