Review: Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught.

Posted June 18, 2009 by Rowena in Reviews | 21 Comments

Rowena’s review of Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught.

Hero: Clayton Westmoreland
Heroine: Whitney Stone
Grade: 3 out of 5

Under the dark, languorous eyes of Clayton Westmoreland, the Duke of Claymore, Whitney Stone grew from a saucy hoyden into a ravishingly sensual woman. Fresh from her triumphs in Paris society, she returned to England to win the heart of Paul, her childhood love . . . only to be bargained away by her bankrupt father to the handsome, arrogant duke. Outraged, she defies her new lord. But even as his smoldering passion seduces her into a gathering storm of desire, Whitney cannot — and will not — relinquish her dream of perfect love.

I read this book for the first time way back in 1999. It was not too long after I graduated from high school and I tried my hand at reading the many romance novels that my sister had lying around the house. This was one of them. I remember reading this after I had read and loved Something Wonderful, Once & Always, Almost Heaven and A Kingdom of Dreams. There were only two books left in the pile my sister had on the bookshelf in the den by Judith McNaught. I was so sure that I was going to love these last two books just as much as I enjoyed the other books. Though I enjoyed this one, I didn’t necessarily love it. Now, I guess that’s not necessarily true. There are scenes and parts of this book that I absolutely LOVE but there are things and scenes in this story that I absolutely hate.

So Clayton Westmoreland sees Whitney Stone when Whitney is living in France with her Aunt and Uncle and he’s quite taken with her. When she goes back to England where her no good father is, he offers for her and her father is quick to take the money. Whitney, on the other hand, already has grand plans for herself. When she finally got back to England she was going to win the hand of her childhood crush, Paul Sevarin. She has had a serious jones for Paul ever since she was a young girl and the crush has only gotten worse over time.

Whitney has come back home, no longer the annoying childish imp that used to follow Paul around all the time. Now she’s back and she’s this graceful young beauty that knows a thing or two about the world and she’s ready to win Paul over for her own. But her plans come to a screeching halt when she finds out that her father accepted money to see her wed to a complete stranger. So her plan to woo Paul is put on hold while she tries to untangle herself from the engagement she’s found herself in.

Watching Clayton and Whitney bicker and fight throughout the entire book wasn’t always a bad thing but as the book wore on, the bickering and the fighting and the constant back and forth between these two got to be a bit much.

Clayton was a great hero but he did things in this book that I could not stand. There’s a scene in this book that paints Clayton in a very dark light. Because he was completely remorseful and hated himself, I used to let it slide off my back because I so loved Clayton. But I reread the scene and it is, what it is. I never wanted to see it that way because I liked Clayton so much but well, it happened. On the plus side, there was so much about Clayton that I loved. So many scenes in which he made my heart pound with excitement, scenes that he took my breath away and scenes that made me fall a little harder for him, scenes that made me forget about that scene.

My favorite scene was the dinner table scene where Whitney goes to Clayton’s house trying to win him back. That scene is probably one of my most favorite scenes written by Judith McNaught. It took guts to do what Whitney did that night and the way that she stuck it out and won the boy impressed the hell out of me.

But Whitney. Whitney, Whitney, Whitney.

She spent most of the book She was the most spoiled little brat EVER and the way that she lashed out at everything, jumped to conclusions, assumed the worst in Clayton drove me up the wall. The way that she was blindly faithful to Paul pissed me off and just got on my frickin’ nerves. She drove me up the wall and she had those TSTL qualities that I hate in heroines. I understood why she was pissed off at Clayton, I did, but the way that she hated him then kissed him then hated him again drove me facking nuts!

For me, this book was all over the place. There were things that I absolutely loved and there were things that drove me bat shit crazy and made me want to run someone over in my car (preferably Whitney). So it’s hard for me to grade this book. Because the things that I LOVED about this book cancel out some of the things that I hate about this book, I’m gonna give this book a 3. The good things saved the bad things for the most part and for those of you guys who are willing to give this book a go, let me know when you review the book…I’d love to read your thoughts.

This book is available from Pocket. You can buy it here.

Holly Says: Rowena is so much more generous than I am. I can think of very few things about this book that I enjoyed and so many things that caused me so much rage. OMG THE RAGE. Whitney was a tool and Clayton was only slightly better. The misunderstandings, rape and immature behavior from both parties just killed it for me. I’d go so far as to say this book should be graded in the negative. Although I will say I have yet to read an author that can work me up as well as Judith McNaught.

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21 responses to “Review: Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught.

  1. Well, what can I say, I’m old school. I ADORE this book. Yes, Clayton is an asshat. Yes, the Big Mis runs rampant. Yes, there’s the forced seduction.

    But when you think about the fact that McNaught created many of the “cliches” that occur in romance, I dunno, it works for me.

    But I really, really understand why this book is so polarizing. I get that there are many things that make readers want to vomit.

    Me? I adore this book. I’m crazy like that. ;o)

  2. It is interesting, I think, how we can see all the flaws in the book and yet appreciate it?

    I admit that I love this book, but more for what it meant the first time I read it than it would if I were to read it now as a new reader.

  3. I am crazy like Kati cuz I completely loved this book too. It’s on my keeper shelf. And I totally get why so many people hate it, and why Holly suffered such rage while reading it. This is just one of those unexplained phenomenons. I offer no apologies, it is what it is.

  4. Tabitha

    I first read this book over a decade ago when I was new to reading romances. Then, I thought it was a great book although I can’t remember why. Fast forward a few years, I tried to locate my copy and couldn’t so I bought another copy of the book and it was the revised version.

    The re-read produced a different reaction from the first read. While I still enjoyed the book it wasn’t as great as I remembered it to be. The book was — and the h/h too were — quite annoying at times. Clayton’s reaction to how he wronged Whitney the first time (after the rape) and the dinner table scene when Whitney went to get Clayton back were my most favored moments in the book.

  5. Lori

    While I love McNaught’s writing, I agree this is my least favorite of all her books. For all the reasons Wena listed.

  6. Ana

    I have to agree with Holly on this one. This one gets a “-10” from me. The Rape! The R-a-p-e makes me so freaking insane with rage that I can hardly even write this comment.

    Ok, so there is grovel and good one, after that. BUT THEN he makes another wrong assumption and behaves like a jerk all.over.again.

    DIE, Clayton, DIE.

    Ana, the enraged one.

  7. Ana, we need to talk about learning to show one’s feelings. Such restraint on your part is very ladylike but really, it cannot be healthy.


  8. I was thinking the same thing, AL!

    I was all, “Geez, Ana, don’t hold back, just say what’s on your mind!”

    Poor Clayton, Ana has a deathwish for him.

  9. One of the things I find interesting about the division in readers’ opinions is the question of the rape/no rape.

    There was a long and extremely interesting thread over at the Smart Bitches about it, years ago, and Ms McNaught actually posted a couple of comments to it, giving her perspective on it.

    If I have a few hours later to look it up, I’ll be sure to post the link here–eye opening, educational and entertaining, all in one place 😀

  10. M.

    I would dearly love to hear those comments from the author that provide perspective.

    I read somewhere, i think, that this reissue had been somewhat rewritten to accommodate current sensibilities, so I wonder if what the Bingers read is the reworked or orignal version? Because if reworked, and it still released this reaction in them – then, wowsers, imagine the original.

    Which, BTW, is what I read, as one of the very first books ever in the romance genre. Handed to me by a friend so I trusted her and read to the end, but by the time I got there, I hated the hero for never getting a comeuppance, hated the heroine for allowing him to come back again and again, and hated that the author seemed to have no sense of justice whatsoever.

    Haven’t picked up a McNaught since, nor do I plan to.

  11. I couldn’t agree more with your review. The first time I read it-it was one of my first romance books too- I loved it. The second time Whitney got on my last nerve and I went back and forth about Clayton. One thing I can say for sure is that it is compulsiely readable as most McNaught’s books are.

  12. Lori

    Ok, so there is grovel and good one, after that. BUT THEN he makes another wrong assumption and behaves like a jerk all.over.again.

    This is vintage McNaught. She must have invented the Big MIS… It just doesn’t usually involve a rape.

    I think this may be the only one of her books I haven’t reread.

  13. Guess what? I never read a historical of hers. Actually I read PERFECT and that book was perfect! Exactly what I want from a RS, a strong intense romance in it. This historical book of hers was one that I remind myself to read when I plan to read a historical of hers. Thanks for all the info. Now I’m not sure which I’d read first of her historicals, LOL

  14. Ash

    I’m in the camp that loves this book. I don’t think romance books would even resemble what they have become without her influence on the genre and this is the book that busted down those doors for Regency historicals. The rape/no rape, I didn’t see much difference in between the original and revised versions. From what I remember of the revised, Whitney does consent, even if it is rough, so I never got the hysteria toward it. It’s a powerful scene and set up the second half of the book. Almost Heaven will always be one of my all time favorites, but this one has a special place in my heart.

  15. Ana

    I think the worst thing for me with regards to this book (and any other book where the hero is a jerk coughTheWindlfowercough) it is the DARK place that the hero’s mind is when he approaches the heroine. Clayton thinks really lowly of Whitney and in the rape scene, there is nothing but anger (and lust) there. I find it horrible. I find it horrible that towards the end, even though he has lived with Whitney and loved her, he goes back to the same dark place without as much as a second thought.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love “dark” heroes. I like angst. What I can’t take is a hero that mistreats an undeserving heroine with such anger in my romance novels.

    Ash: I do get really “hysteric” when a hero is so brutal as to not hear that the heroine is telling him “no”. In the first version of the book, the one I read, it really is rape. I laughed manically when I read that scene.

  16. AL,
    I know for me personally the rape issue wasn’t the key to my intense dislike of the book. Mine stemmed more from the overall actions of both the hero and heroine.

    Whitney’s refusal to see Paul for what he really was and her need to constantly push Clayton away were just distasteful. I couldn’t figure out why she acted so..well, too stupid to live.

    The way Clayton constantly jumped to the wrong conclusion and his need to punish Whitney each time he assumed the wrong thing about her was just as distateful as her actions.

    I guess what I’m saying is that it was the overall picture that I had a hard time with, not just one particular incident.

    Having said that, I will admit the first time I read this I loved it. I actually finished the last page and then turned to the first and immediately started re-reading it. That’s how it was for me with each McNaught book I read.

    It wasn’t until years later when I re-read them that I realized how flawed they really were. The same thing happened to me with her contemporaries. Each time I re-read one I feel betrayed in some small way. Sort of like finding out Santa Clause isn’t really real..the illusion is gone.

  17. I love book. I have read and re-read this book for many years since the 1988. To me this is one of Judith’s best book. I love Clayton. Yes he is a jerk and what guy is not. The rape scene, yes it is tough but everyone forgets that he rescues her family from going to debtors prison and paid a lot of money for her. I too would be mad if I thought that someone had did me wrong. Whitney did get on my nerves a couple of times that I wanted to strangle her. Clayton’s character is sometimes dark but I rather a dark hero than some wimpy guy.

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