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Until You by Judith McNaught

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Until You
Westmoreland #3

Judith McNaught
Historical Romance
First published in 1993

H/h - Stephen Westmoreland, the Earl of Langford/Sheridan Bromleigh
Setting: London/The Colonies, 1824.

Read in May, 2011 (1st read, 2010).
My rating:

                                                           [spoiler alert]

After my 2nd reading of the book...

Hihihi ... Right! I was kinda distracted by something else ... Hmm, yah, Stephen. I think I like him better than Clayton. I liked him him Whitney, My Love, though he's rather 'jaded' (really?) when it comes to women in his book, he's still lot better than Clayton. For one, he isn't a hypocrite and then, he's actually quite nice. I remember in the 1st reading I liked him tremendously and the ending was what made me gave it a 5 stars. Now, I have some problems with him. (2nd/3rd readings can be a problem, really) ... hmm *drifts away with some really distracting thoughts .....*

..... But I digress! Hmm, so I REALLY hate the talks of his mistress for the half of the book (again, nothing new, I hated it in LK's Midnight Angel, I hate it here ... I'll hate it in any book I guess) but I like Stephen's POV regarding the affair because he's honest about it to a fault. I certainly understand that being a rather hefty catch for the matchmaking mamas, debutantees and all the other kinds of females, it can grate on one's nerves if one's being constantly harassed by the aforementioned individuals. I totally understood why he's jaded about women. Yah, when you're an Earl and have all the luck in wealth, goodlooks and spoiled with women around you, you're supposed to ... no, you're ENTITLED to feel a little jaded! (I'm not even sure where I'm going with this point except that I hate when men/heroes tend to think this way and act accordingly. Bleh!). So, I understand you Stephen (but I hate the way your shallow minded mistress thinks) ... Sorry, sorry but what I was getting at was everytime you kiss or see Sherry, your comparing her with your current mistress or past 'experiences' kinda really PISSES me off. Damn right! And also, your thoughts on making her your mistress, even though you know perfectly well it's not how things are done! I mean seriously what is this thing about 'getting whatever I want' with all these dukes and earls and whatever! Hmmmm ... So your own musings on your own moral assessments(?) are kinda correct. You do need a LIFE!

So, no more digressing. I like Stephen and Sherry. As a character, Sherry is interesting. So far I didn't think she's TSTL and hope I don't have to spend the entire book feeling sorry for her (see: Whitney, My Love aka Whitney's Ordeal). I really loved reading about her life in America; mostly about her childhood when she was living with her father. One thing, in the scene where her father takes her to her spinster aunt (Sherry's mother's elder sister) and they argue regarding Sherry's upbringing ... I had some thoughts like was her father interested in the aunt and was spurned by her, then married her mother? I dunno why the thought came but some of their words gave away something contemptuous yet some vaguely ... something I couldn't really quite identify!

Anyways, I loved reading about Dog Lies Sleeping and Raphael, the spanish guy. Sherry is a romantic at heart which makes her to take the ill-fated journey to England in secret hopes (with healthy influences of the romance novels she reads. Heh, who am I kidding here, she sounds just like me! :p) of meeting her own true love, as a companion to one spoiled heiress Charise. This heiress was supposed to be married to an English baron but she elopes with another man in the midst of the journey. In a twist of the high drama that never fails to rock any HR, just before they arrive in England, Stephen kills the baron in an accident. Then, he comes to receive the fiancee and give her the news. In more of that same twist, Sherry finds herself injured and with amnesia! And Stephen not knowing who she is, thinks she's the fiancee, tells her her name is Charise and is rather disgusted to find himself attracted to a dead man's finacee, someone he 'killed'. I wanted to roll my eyes with this thought of his but couldn't do that, because I liked it that no matter what, Stephen is trying to take the responsibilities where Sherry is concerned and not doing things his lout of a brother would've done, which would most certainy have ended in some sort of disaster!

It was funny to see the way after planning to 'marry her off' to avoid further inconveniences in order to stick to his 'most cherished' bachelorhood, Stephen ticking off men from the lists (brought by his mother and Whitney) of eligible bachelors. I really wanna see where this debacle leads to... :p

Stephen Stephen Stephen, where do I start about you? Really, though you didn't beat Clayton's scores in oafishness, you came seriously close! These two men are so quick to judge people, they needed heroines who'd give them right hell and bring them to their knees. But, sadly, even Sherry who was quite rebelious, didn't amount to it. *sigh*

So, lots of things happened and Stephen asks Sherry that he wants her to have a season and meet other eligible bachelors and Sherry thinks he doesn't want her *misunderstanding*. Then Stephen, after getting the news of Charise's father's death, decides to propose Sherry. Sherry hears stuffs about Stephen's 'scintillating' lifestyle and current mistress at Almack's and she actually said things to him like 'in your face' but it didn't have the heat and spirit I expected; then Stephen, quite easily 'convinced' her to marry him. Then, surprise surprise, the real Charise learns about the betrothal and yes, she goes there to destroy everything for Sherry on her wedding day *gasps*. Sherry's memory returns at the same time *oh dear* and she runs outta house, scared and feeling terribly confused and alone. She goes to Nicki DuVille for help, whom you already know from WML as Whitney's friend and one of the suitors. Here, he was Sherry's suitor as well. Poor guy! But I'll get back to him later.

So, Stephen hears it all (truths and lies) from Charise, pays her to keep her mouth shut and waits for Sherry to return, who, of course, doesn't. Then starts the series of 'let's abuse the slut/actress/abuser of trust because I'm a moron and a hypocrite and I tend to think of others just as I myself am' event! Before this, I wanna mention that Whitney talks to Sherry about one of Stephen's many affairs with one married hussy with whom he thought he was in love with and was deceived in return. That woman didn't wanna marry a 'mere mister' (Stephen wasn't yet an Earl then), then marries an old marquess ... and you can guess what followed after. Many more misunderstandings, a duel and Stephen's becoming all jaded and toughen up! Whitney talks about all these in defense to Sherry's anger on Stephen being a rake. Though it was a mess, I didn't care much about the whole thing, let alone the defense part and it was so irritating that a naive Sherry didn't even understand what kind of 'friendship' Stephen had with the woman. What was your point Whitney because Stephen is a rake!

So, more high drama and misunderstanding ... Sherry takes the job of a governess in the Skeffington's house with Nicki's help. And, then every Thursday goes to the opera to get a glimpse of Stephen, poor girl! And Stephen, proving that he's just like his brother, starts seeing other women including the mistress, in hopes of forgetting her *no comments because I'm out of words*. He'd already convinced himself that Sherry has become Nicki's mistress. Whitney discovers Sherry and devices a plan with fellow cohorts Victoria and Alexandra, who are wives to Jason and Jordan respectively of the first two Sequels books. This story actually takes place 4 yrs after Whitney, My Love and 1st two Sequels heroes have already gotten married by this time.

Then, Whitney invites the Skeffingtons to her son Noel's birthday. And, you can guess, things go horribly wrong. First, Sherry misunderstands it all, then she was being manipulated by Whitney to be a part of this scheme. I say manipulation because I hated the way Whitney wheedled her to make Stephen talk to her at any cost. I mean it wasn't Sherry's fault entirely. What about Stephen? But, Sherry did just that and in the process got humiliated by him and lost her virginity, then got a proposal of being his mistress. When Sherry slapped him, it felt really good but I hoped for something more than a slap. He deserved that!

Ok, moving on, Sherry leaves with Julianna, Skeffington's eldest daughter, who's very intelligent and perceptive even at her young age. Then Charity Thornton, Sherry's onetime chaperone plays a vital role, which prompts Stephen to meet Nicki and have some misunderstandings sorted out through fisticuffs. *by this time, I was rather resigned* These two hatch another plan to bring Sherry out of her current employment so that Stephen can marry her. I liked the scene in front of the old church. And, I loved the wedding night scene, the meaning behind it. What I didn't like was Sherry's confusions and apprehensions on whether or not she'll have to compete with the mistress/share Stephen with her. I absolutely HATED it and that proved what an insensitive a$$ Stephen is. I sure as hell wouldn't wanna marry a man like him, if this is the thought I have to torture myself with on my wedding night!

So overall, though he was better than Clayton in some aspects, I really didn't think that Stephen honestly felt sorry for the hurtful things he'd done to Sherry. And also, he should've reassured Sherry that he's only hers, which he never did. I've already mentioned how I loathed the fact that he kept on comparing her with his mistress; he kept that up til the end. I'm not even sure (correct me if I'm wrong) that he said ILU back to her because, though the implication was there through his musings and so on but face to face, I didn't think he did, whereas Sherry said the words to him many times over. It was all about what she did to him, how she betrayed him! I also hated Whitney's lecture on how Westmoreland men conduct their lives and how they act when they want something etc etc. My verdict: Stay away from them, run for your life, well-being and dignity because most of the times, it's not worth it!

In the end, Sherry's dad Patrick and friend Raphael, both of whom were missing for 6 yrs, come back. They come to England together with her aunt Cornelia in search of her (by now they know she went missing but nothing else). And, whether I guessed right or not in my 1st post, it seems Cornelia and Patrick are getting married. And, Nicki, again loses another woman he might've thought of marrying. I wanna mention that I liked Nicki quite a lot. He's a very stable character (unstable ie: Clayton!), so far that's the expression I got from the description in 2 books. He's a notorious womanizer himself and comes from a very old and respected French family but ultimately, he's proven to be more of a gentleman than the two Westmoreland brothers. But, if I remember anything about his novella, he acted as a SOB with ... well, no more about him. I only remember that I wanted his story to be a full novel since I really liked it.

I'm gonna give this one a 3.5 star (5 star before) because, even though there were things I liked about this book, many other icky things just killed the fun for me! 

PS: Did I mention I hated Clayton in this book as well? Yah, I did, since I read ample examples which indicated he hasn't changed a bit.


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