I've read plenty of books about tortured heroes, but this is my first tortured heroine. Emma suffered a lot: watching her parents drown in a shipwreck, barely surviving the shipwreck herself, being snubbed by the Brits in Delhi because she was rescued by Irish sailors, learning that her fiancee is a philandering, stiff-necked bastard, barely escaping being raped by a soldier, fleeing for her life from blood-thirsty rebels (and who could blame them for being bloodthirsty; the Brits' treatment of Indians was shameful), falling in love with Julian only to have him disappear and fail to return as promised. Whew!
She returns to England, damaged and hopeless, her only solace coming from her painting. When she encounters Julian and learns that he thought she was dead, does she rejoice as he does? Nooo. She's mad at him for not finding her in India, even though she was traveling constantly during the rebellion and using a false name. When he tells her how hard he searched for her, does her anger cool? Nooo. She rejects him and plans to travel to Italy to paint.
The plot was great -- lots of action, real history woven in, complicated characters -- but Emma's treatment of Julian, the centerpiece of the book's second half, was just too irrational for me. Meredith Duran is a good writer, but somehow she's just never worked for me.