Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pop Tarts Book Club: "Love Only Once" Chapters 23-31

Reminder: This is a book club, so there will be spoilers!

Synopsis of Chapters 23-31

A pregnant Reggie is living at Silverley, Nicholas' estate, with Nicholas' stepmother, Miriam. She's a little bored, but she also loves the solitude and general tranquility. She goes down to the lake to sketch, but decides it's too cold, but before she can get back to the house, she gets kidnapped and taken to the port city of Southampton. The kidnappers talk of using her to "catch a bigger fish." It turns out, she's been kidnapped on the orders of a captain, but she doesn't allow her captors to see her worry. Eventually, the captain walks in ... and it's her Uncle James! He has kidnapped Reggie before to take her for a little pirate adventure (much to the dismay of her other uncles), but this time he has kidnapped her for a much darker reason. He didn't realize that Reggie has married Nicholas, who is James' old nemesis. Turns out, James "thrashed" Nicholas for insults, ended up in jail and was nearly hanged for being a pirate. James escaped and arranged his death, and now he wants revenge on Nicholas and thought he'd lure Nicholas out by kidnapping his wife. Reggie also finds out that she has a cousin, Jeremy - James' son. Tony and Jason find them, and they all sort of reunite over Reggie and her plight and their mutual dislike of her husband.

Meanwhile, Nicholas is on his plantation in the West Indies. He is getting ready to go back home and try to smooth things over with Reggie, but before he can, James and his first mate, Connie, find him and take him back to England to see Reggie. They tell Nicholas who James really is (he's been going under the pseudonym Captain Hawke), but don't tell him about Reggie's pregnancy.

Nicholas comes back to his home in London to find that Reggie has redecorated and, oh yeah, had a baby named Thomas. Nicholas doubts the parentage, of course, but is also immediately attracted to Reggie once again. He also discovers that Reggie has been getting along quite well with Eleanor, his aunt, and Eleanor begs Nicholas to try to fix his marriage.

Nicholas sees Reggie and Thomas playing together and voices his suspicions, pissing Reggie off even more. They get bitchy with each other, but early the next morning Thomas is awakened by Thomas' crying and he walks in on Reggie nursing Thomas. He knows that it's his son, but he feels horrible for leaving his pregnant wife.

He decides to pack up Reggie, Thomas and himself and take them all back to Silverley, and Reggie convinces Eleanor to go, too. Nicholas realizes he needs to woo his wife again, but knows that when they get to Silverley they'll be able to sleep in separate beds. So, before they get to Silverley he makes them stop at an inn for a night, forcing Reggie and Nicholas to sleep in the same bed. He climbs into bed naked and pretends to be asleep when he throws his arm and leg over Reggie. Reggie is turned on by the contact, and, even though she thinks he's half-asleep and doesn't realize what he's doing, they have passionate sex, then fall asleep in each other's arms.

Jen's Thoughts

There are some major pluses to these last few chapters, which is nice because this book has been a bit of a slog at times, due to the idiocy of Reggie and Nicholas and their complete and utter inability to tell each other what they're feeling or be nice to each other.

As it was in the last group of chapters, the biggest plus was PIRATES! I loved finally getting to meet James Malory, his first mate and his son. Who doesn't love pirates!? I liked their talk with Reggie, but I really liked James screwing with Nicholas by not telling him about the baby.

I was also genuinely touched by Nicholas & Reggie in the nursery, when Thomas woke Nicholas up. I liked that little bit of family time, and I think it was a real step in the right direction for them. Yeah, Nicholas left his bedroom because he wanted to watch Reggie sleep (kinda creepy, dude), but I was really glad to see that genuine love for Thomas and Reggie, and his dismay at leaving his pregnant wife (even though he didn't know she was pregnant when he left). I thought that was some maturity for Nicholas.

However, Nicholas' maturity was short-lived, because then he uprooted everyone and made them go to Silverley on a whim (mostly because he was whiny about Reggie doing her thang after he LEFT HER ON THEIR WEDDING DAY), and then his trickery in getting them to have sex. I am really divided on this sex scene. On one hand, Reggie thought she was taking initiative while he was half-conscious, which is a little rapey (how often do you have women getting rapey in romance novels?). On the other hand, Nicholas was being awfully manipulative, feeling her up in bed and getting her all hot 'n' bothered. I guess that makes it OK, in a way ... especially since we know they were both secretly jonesing for each other. But still, it wasn't quite the wonderful romantic rejoining that I wanted!

Kel's Thoughts:

First, big reveal that the pirate who beat up Nicholas is James Malory! I already knew that since I read James' book (much better than this one, fyi), but still a fun reveal. Jeremy may be my favorite Malory ever due to his charm and cheek. I also thought reuniting Reggie with her family made everything better. Anytime the Malory men are fighting, I am interested.

 And I agree with Jen that it was super fun that though James went and found Nicholas like his older brother told him, he did not tell him about Reggie giving birth all so he could see Nicholas' face when he found out. Mean, but come on...Nicholas totally deserved that.

I also liked the scene in the nursery though pretty much since the wedding Nicholas has acted like a child. He keeps just doing random things (going to the West Indies, moving the family to Silverly) on a whim and is just generally mopey that things are not falling into his lap.

What I will say about this section of chapters is that Reggie has finally grown on me. I still got annoyed when she once again was playing the "I'm sad because Nicholas didn't want to marry me" since she knew that all along! However, she seems to have decided that Nicholas can be as grumpy as he wants and she is not going to worry about it. I think that speaks to a maturity that we haven't seen from her before.

I agree with Jen that the great "romantic rejoining" was not romantic at all. I'm not sure it was really rapey since Nicholas planned the whole thing...even though Reggie didn't know that. If I'm remembering correctly (from this morning when I read it...apparently I didn't pay too close attention), Nicholas was obviously awake before anything really happened. And even as inappropriate as it was, it really made me laugh when Reggie thought how she wished she were the guy so she could just straddle Nicholas and relieve her tension. She has been hanging out with the Malory men too much!

Note on book club: 

We are going to be doing the next book club differently since this hasn't really worked out as planned. We haven't been reading very fast and there isn't enough in each book to really break it down this much, so for our next book we are going to read it all and then do one book club post. Our next book is Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn. We encourage you to grab a copy and read it so you can add to our discussion which will be happening within the next few weeks. You don't want to miss it! (Again, Kel has a slight advantage because she has read the sequel...why does she read series out of order? No one is sure...including her.)

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