Fool Me Twice by Meredith Duran Publication date: March 25, 2014 Publisher: Pocket Books Series: The Rules for the Reckless #2 Goodreads | Amazon| B&N
Meredith Duran unceasingly delights me as a wordsmith and a master at understanding the elements that concoct complex, genuine, and lovable characters. There is nothing for Olivia and Alastair but the darkness of their pasts and the need to escape them. The intense loneliness as a result of their respective missions is the exact force that exerted a magnetic pull among the two -- Olivia's amazing capacity for love and understanding desperate her own desperate situation, and Alastair's futile attempt to erase all the purity and goodness from his heart. Olivia has set out to rob Alastair of certain letters to escape her own pursuers, but ends up stealing the precious remains of Alastair's near-frozen heart. He, unwilling to trust and love after the betrayal of his deceased wife, reluctantly opened his heart to the intelligent, dear Olivia, whose unadulterated soul saved him from the depths of despair. There is a certain brilliance in the minds and hearts of both Olivia and Alastair. He, a shrewd politican with the soul of a true scholar, first enchanted Olivia with his beautifully articulate writings on every scholarly subject there is. She, a former secretary, wanted to harden her heart towards the man from whom she intended to rob, yet stayed on to knock life into him. Some readers may find Alastair a difficult hero to like, and at first he is, but his wound goes soul deep.
I have done everything right - or so he'd thought. He makes fists. His knuckles crack. He feels no pain (Loc 271)
In just one line, the summation of Alastair's grief is revealed - the perfection he strove as a result of his parents' scandals, and when he had thought he held the world in his hands...it was all a mere illusion. And in Olivia, his light returned.
He gave her a gentle smile. "Humor and wit, in the quirk of your lips. And in your eyes..." His smile faded. "Hope." (Loc 3369)
Yet, in the way that Alastair dominates the first half of the book, Olivia dominates the second. Her resilience, true of heart and brave of spirit, withstood the pain of her past and gave her the strength to help Alastair in his time of need. My diction is insufficient to express the intangible grip with which these characters held my heart. Set in the rich and opulent Victorian era, Duran nonetheless showcases the darkness of the era in its class differences, a duality of the historical era reflected through the opaque eyes of Alastair and Olivia. The dichotomy between light and darkness; the morality of man vs. the purity of darkness, are both written in an astoundingly sublime manner within this story. I ached for Alastair, feared for Olivia, and celebrated their joining. This book is a journey which every romance reader should undertake. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. *My sincerest thanks to the publisher for a review copy; yes, it's an honest review.