My rating: 5 of 5 stars
AMAZING! That's the word that came to my mind when I finished this book. I'm always a bit wary when I start reading a book that's been highly praised by "everyone", as sky-high expectations can turn an otherwise excellent read into a "somewhat disappointingly good" read, so I didn't know what to expect from Bound by Your Touch when I picked it up. Well, I'm glad to say that "everyone" was right and I'm joining the chorus. I loved everything about this book: James, Lydia, the secondary characters, the story...
Lydia is the oldest daughter of Henry Boyce, an archaeologist who spends a great part of his life working in Egypt. A confirmed spinster at the advanced age of twenty-six, Lydia is her father's business manager and takes care of his trading affairs in London while he's away in Egypt. Raising funds to support her father's research is one of her responsabilities, so Lydia is more than a little annoyed when James barges into one of her fund-raising meetings with some important and rich men and interrupts her speech.
James's sole goal in life is to annoy his father, the Earl of Moreland, any way he can and, unfortunately for Lydia, his father is one of the important and rich men in attendance to her meeting and James doesn't care where or when he manages to achieve his goal. James and Lydia doesn't exactly make sparks fly in their first meeting, but they are intrigued - or should I say, annoyed - enough to dedicate a thought or two to each other. A few days later, the possibility of her father being involved in trading forgeries and smuggling precious gems from Egypt leads Lydia to seek James's cooperation and that's when the story really takes off.
I fell in love with Lydia right from the start. When I finished reading the Prologue, I was already rooting for her HEA. How could I care so much for her so soon? I can only "blame" Ms. Duran's writing skills for that. As I read the following chapters, I grew to love Lydia even more. On the surface, she seemed to be all prim, proper and good, but she nurtured a well-deserved dislike of her sister Sophie, who stole and married the man she loved. I liked the fact that Lydia wasn't "perfect". I mean, aren't we all tired of the saintly heroine who, despite everything and everyone, is always understanding and forgiving? That jealous sister of her betrayed her, and Lydia was more than welcome to harbor some resentment over it. Not that she was mean or anything, but she didn't regard her sister's betrayal as something "unimportant".
As for James, I had a hard time with him at first. He was handsome and charming, but his self-destructive behavior was, like Lydia stated at one point, childish. He was constantly drunk - or trying to get drunk - and his life was dedicated to embarass and cause pain to his father, there was no other purpose in it. He had "everything" but did nothing useful with it. Or so it seemed. Slowly but gradually, I got to know what drove him and, even though I couldn't fully support the way he chose to deal with it, I understood him and, like Lydia, fell in love with him. To borrow her words, "Everyone is brave in his own way. You must not blame others if they don't fit your mold."
Lydia and James came from two very problematic families, to say the least, so it was no wonder they were dysfunctional to some extent. I like to think that it was their meeting each other that "saved" them from the dead end lives they had been living but, in the end, each dealt with his/her problem on his/her own.
The ending was bittersweet and, again, unusual.
This book went straight to my keepers shelf, and I can't wait to get my hands on Ms. Duran's next book.
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