The Fall of a Saint by Christine Merrill
Author Christine Merrill is not shy of her portrayal of a controversial beginning for a romance. Not many victims of rape can say they would forgive their perpetrator, let alone fall in love with him. Yet, in this story the lines of rape and consent visibly blur into was it a vivid dream when Madeline Cranston held out her arms welcoming the man into her bed until she woke enough to know it was not the man she yearned for. Michael Poole, a Duke, was so intoxicated he mistook the welcoming woman for the bar maid that had invited him originally. It wasn’t until the act was over for him that he realized she was not the correct woman and she was not welcoming at that time.
It was her screaming that announced the wrong, when realization hit because she believed the man who had come into her darkened room to be the man she loved come back from the dead- the man she was told died in war. To make matters worse, her prospective employer was to meet her at the inn the next day, only to arrive at that inopportune moment when the scandal hit the hallway. Her days as a professional tutor/nanny were over. She flees the inn in shame only to search out the Duke months later when she finds she is pregnant.
He being noble, despite that night of shame, proposes to her immediately. He needs an heir and pins his hopes on this unborn child. Trying to do the right thing is obvious and in this time period when kissing a woman would ruin her reputation, he has no other choice. His own half-brother was not acknowledged by his father. He would not repeat the same mistake. Yet history seems it would repeat when after the wedding, Madeline still holds resentment. The Duke’s marriage is like his parents, which is his worse nightmare. Some folly follows as she dreams up ways to punish him, only for her to learn he has seen it all before. He watched his parents play the game of punishing each other and emotionally neglecting him. As in all romances, their relationship ebbs and flows with much change and maturing between them. All though they are an unlikely match, in the end they become perfect for each other.
Despite the initial controversial rape scene (not in explicit detail) that many find offensive, the story is quite entertaining. The writing flows giving the story full potential and the characters surprise even given the circumstances. Overall it was enjoyable to read once one gets over the incident that brought these two characters together. By her own admission, Madeline hides the fact she did hold out her arms to the man in her bed that night. She may have dreamed of her love coming to her, making love to her but that dream was shattered when she realized it was not him at all. Thus it blurs the line and is not true non-consensual rape but perchance mistaken identity on both of their parts.
To read other books by Christine Merrill visit her website at: