So, like most recent readers of this book, I picked this puppy up based on its notorious reputation.I'll have to admit, I ended up liking it.It is a bodice ripper, no doubt about that. He backhands her hard enough to give her a bloody nose on page 28. By page 31, he's brutally raped her and sent her blood and semen encrusted underthings to her father. He holds her responsible for her father's actions, and he blames him for his mother's death in a bloody massacre.The way to enjoy it, I think, is to remember it's fiction. No English virgins were harmed in the making of this book.It also helps that Catherine fights Sean tooth and nail until he stops brutalizing her. She makes multiple escape attempts, she tries to con his brother Liam into taking her away, she learns to fight with knives and acquits herself admirably. She's not at all TSTL or a doormat, she's a hellcat with Stockholm syndrome.Sean gets satisfactorily punished as well. Captured after returning Catherine to her father, and refusing to tell her father what Catherine had actually gotten up to in the past few years, he gets well tortured:Enderly's mouth whitened and his grip tightened on the crop. "You'd like to taunt me into killing you with a blow, wouldn't you?" He turned to Worthy and dictated calmly as if giving an order to a tradesman. "Geld him."Worthy dismissed the soldiers and began to strop a knife that resembled a medical scalpel. "Watchin' only makes it worse, lad. The sharper the blade, the less you'll feel. I'll be as quick as I can."Worthy tested the blade against his thumb then took a position between the prisoner's thighs.Suddenly, the spread-eagled man arched like a drawn bow, tendons standing out like crawling snakes as the knife sliced cleanly...Oh, he got to keep one nut, but I'd say that's some epic penance. He gets whipped and shot a few times too, just for good measure.The final 300 pages are an epic saga of family drama, international intrigue, dashing feats of derring-do and a whole lot of bad guys dying. So much gets thrown at poor Catherine and the now sympathetic Sean that I couldn't go to bed without knowing it ended happily. And it does. 7+ years after capturing her, he marries her and takes her and their 4 year old son back to Ireland. Mentally exhausted after watching these two continually put through the wringer, I crashed for the night.What keeps this from being a really good or a great book is a lack of character depth and a half-dozen WTF moments. They're not one-dimensional characters or anything, but there were a number of times where I just didn't understand their actions. How do you go from trying to kill someone to enthusiastically screwing him in the space of 5 minutes? Stuff like that. A bit more head time would have made their actions a lot more interesting.All told, it's really not a bad book at all. I wasn't forcing myself through it at all. Brutal rape aside, it was well plotted and written. I don't think I could re-read it, as it contains more misfortune than a newspaper, but it's nothing to be afraid of.