Catra Meredyth thinks her life is perfect until Yankee Ryan St. James enters her safe, Southern world. Catra is about to marry her childhood friend, who is also Ryan's business partner. By mutual agreement, the marriage is to be one of friendship and shared interests; it's not a love match.
Meeting Ryan unsettles Catra; he challenges her in a way that no one ever has and she's both intellectually and physically stimulated by his company. Ryan feels the same way about Catra, but he's not interested in getting married.
Ryan hopes that Catra can be persuaded to break her engagement and induced to have an affair with him. But Catra quickly she lets Ryan know that she values herself more than that. Also, Catra has an obligation to her younger brother, Jimmy, who was born with problems and has not developed normally. If she doesn't marry, her cousin will inherit her family's estate and Catra knows her cousin will not care for Jimmy.
Catra's father, Thurber, doesn't want Ryan anywhere near his daughter; Ryan has acquired (unfairly, of course!) a reputation for ruining young women. After her father finds them kissing passionately, he orders Ryan to stay away from Catra. But the attraction between these two overwhelms them both and they continue to meet in secret. Neither realizes what lengths Thurber Meredyth will go to in order to keep Catra and Ryan apart.
I loved the first part of Compulsion; Catra and Ryan have incredible chemistry, which is highlighted by some absolutely wonderful dialogues between the two. I also believe the beginning of this tale has a simple, yet powerful romantic feel to it, which is very appealing.
Even the middle of this book is good, but towards the end things start getting too sudsy. For instance, Catra spends her honeymoon having an affair with Ryan in his family's home! It's just too much of a soap opera and it's disappointing after such an auspicious beginning.
Also, important plot points are never explained; for instance, readers never find out why Ryan was so set against marriage. And, for me, the bottom line is: it's not a happy ending when someone good has to die so that the hero and heroine can live happily ever after.