He jerked her upward. "All the fires of hell could burn for a thousand years and it wouldn't equal what I feel for you in one minute of the day. I love you so much there is no pleasure in it. Nothing but torment. Because if I could dilute what I feel for you to the millionth part, it would still be enough to kill you. And even if it drives me mad, I would rather see you live in the arms of that cold, soulless bastard than die in mine."
"In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”
Not so much a love story at all, because the relationship between Max and "I" is so laughably unequal. She an awkward just-out-of-the-schoolroom young miss, and he an experienced, worldly man once married to one of the greatest figures of romance literature, but the overall feel of the book is one of a gothic romance, and there it will stay. And ye gods, that writing.
I am glad it cannot happen twice, the fever of first love. For it is a fever, and a burden, too, whatever the poets may say. They are not brave, the days when we are twenty-one. They are full of little cowardices, little fears without foundation, and one is so easily bruised, so swiftly wounded, one falls to the first barbed word. Today, wrapped in the complacent armour of approaching middle age, the infinitesimal pricks of day by day brush one lightly and are soon forgotten, but then – how a careless word would linger, becoming a fiery stigma, and how a look, a glance over a shoulder, branded themselves as things eternal.
One of the best fairytale retellings I've ever read, this one is Celtic-based (as are all of Juliet Marillier's writing) version of Beauty and the Beast, featuring a young scribe, Caitrin, and a scarred, twisted man who believes himself monstrous within as well as without. There are ghosts, bitter, vengeful spirits. Politics. War. It's an amazing book.
“How could you not know?” His voice was full of wonderment.“You changed me utterly.You were like a . . . like a bright, wonderful bloom in a garden full of weeds. Like a graceful capital on a page of plain script, a letter decorated with the deepest, finest colors in all Erin. Like a flame, Caitrin. Like a song.”