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TBR Challenge: “All Through The Night” By Connie Brockway

18 Feb


Info: TBR Challenge 2009
Theme for the month: AAR DIK review
In my TBR pile since:: January 2004

Genre: Romance / Historical
Published: Dell, 1997

Availability: out of print

Monthly theme?: AAR DIK review of All Through the Night

Why I bought this novel: I bought it together with two other novels by Brockway because they were so often mentioned favorable. I kept All Through the Night for last because it was supposed to be the best. When I wasn’t wowed by the other two, All Through the Night never made it past the prologue.

The back blurb:
“In the glittering world of Regency England, Anne Wilder played a dangerous game. A widowed lady by day, by night she became a masked thief preying on society’s elite. She roved high above Ondon’s black rooftops, compelled by phantoms from her past to take ever greater risks, Until her restless spirit led her into Colonel Jack Seward’s trap … where seduction was her only way out.
She’d played him for a fool, taking advantage of his hungry response to escape from his clutches. But as Jack hunted for his thief, his heart fell captive to a self-possessed widow. Torn between illicit passion and tender love, Jack is duty-bound to capture the audacious criminal, even if it means ripping society apart to do so. Now he stalked her through the ton, never realizing the lovely widow who captured his heart was the same woman who roused his most violent passions.”

All Through the Night tells a stunning story of attraction and love between two people who didn’t believe in love (for themselves). Both Anne and Jack are tortured characters and both are not of noble birth, making All Through the Night definitely different from the usual historical romance novel.

Anne bears mental scars from what she went through in her marriage and she feels guilty for what her husband did in the war. Because of that she established a home for soldiers and – to feel anything again – she takes to the roofs and robs people. There comes a point where she just doesn’t care any longer if she gets caught because her two very different roles – lady by day, thief at night – become so tangled thanks to Jack:

She wanted to shed her humanity, abandon it to the animal prowling within her, that blessed conscienceless creature without past or future, just the single focus of its intent: Jack Seward, who courted her in one world and hunted her in the other.

Jack grew up in workhouses and his alleged father used him for his spying business, making Jack a ruthless, single-minded and bottled-up man with impeccable, and unshakable, manners. When he feels strongly attracted to two women, he’s astonished and ashamed.

The first time Anne the thief and Jack meet, there is instant attraction. So when sometime later Jack meets Anne, the widow, and feels attracted to her, too, he is stunned. While Anne, the thief, represents his dark side, and attracts him on a sexual level, Anne, the widow, is his light and all that is good. He knows he could love her. And he knows he can never have her (because of what he is). Between the two women, Jack loses his cool and is finally able to face his past.

Anne’s and Jack’s attraction and longing are palpable in every encounter. There is a lot of heated sensuality between them and there are quite a few intense encounters in and out of bed (there is a memorable “chair scene” in this novel, for example) but the reason why they can’t be together is very real, making All Through the Night a often very intense read.

They regarded each other gravely. The chime from a distant church bell tolled the hour. A night bird fluttered across their path. He skimmed his thumb gently along her bottom lip before dropping his hand. His head bent down, her face tilted up.
She heard herself sigh, the faint soughing of her soul. His mouth touched hers, so delicately, so softly it might have been a butterfly’s wing. She couldn’t deny him.
“Jack,” she whispered into the promise of his kiss. “Jack.”
For a second his lips hovered above hers and then he stepped back. She heard him draw a shaky breath.

Good and bad

  • All Through the Night has many beautifully written passages that are marred by some plot contrivances.
  • Anne’s and Jack’s story is intense and All Through the Night is at its best when it focuses on these two and because of that I thought the many POV characters and POV changes very annoying.
  • I loved the vulnerability Anne and Jack showed where the other one was concerned and yet some of their misunderstandings seemed too forced and just there to up the drama.
  • I loved that Anne was a thief and that she thrived on the danger of it, yet at the same time I couldn’t believe in her being able to pull it off. Really, a gentlewoman without training for years and then jumping from roof to roof at night? No way.
  • I understood that Anne felt tortured because of the death of her husband but her home for the soldiers seemed more like a gimmick to make her thief personality more palatable than really a part of her character the way it was incorporated into the story. I also was a bit surprised how easily she could accept a different view of her husband after being all martyr-like before.
  • I thought Jack’s confusion and guilt about being attracted to two women at the same time was described very well. But I seriously doubted his cunning and being-the-best “spy” when he not once wondered about the strange coincidence of being strongly attracted to two women at the same time when before he saw sex as a means and never felt lust and attraction; especially because he not once entertained the idea that the two women could be the same woman because of that.
  • I thought the mystery of the letter very intriguing but the solution felt a bit anti-climactic.

Verdict: I’m terribly torn about this novel. The mix between unusual story elements, poignant emotions and wonderfully eloquent passages (edging to 5/5) on one side and huh?-moments and irritations on the other (edging below 3/5) left me confused, especially about the grade. Maybe it’s because of the really good parts that the “bad” parts stood out so much for me because I think with a few small things different, I would have found All Through the Night a really great novel.

I’m glad I finally read All Through the Night and not just because it’s now out of my TBR pile. All Through the Night is definitely an interesting novel to read.

As for a grade? I honestly can’t say. I would need to read it again, I think. I’ll go with 4/5 for now because it’s between 3/5 and 5/5, although it might be lower ultimately.

ETA (03/01/09): I downgraded it to a decent read (3,5/5). When I did the monthly recap yesterday, I mostly remembered the irritating things so it doesn’t feel right to me to call it a good novel even though it has some (very) good things going for it.