(Mad Passion, #2.5)
Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)
In this all-new novella from the award-winning author of Lady in Red and The Dark Lady, comes a story of fatal plots, seductive spies, and irresistible passions…
Duchess Clare Ederly is lucky to be alive. Having outlived her violent, abusive husband, she decides to put her significant inheritance to good use helping other battered women by opening a refuge for those seeking to escape. But not everyone is pleased with her work. Someone wants to see her sanctuary torn down—at any cost. Her only hope of protecting her home and tenants is a former spy, whose skill at tracking deadly men is matched only by his dangerous charm…
The Earl of Wyndham has done his part for Queen and country; he has had his fill of plotting and politics and simply wants to retire to the pleasant life of his club. But Duchess Clare’s razor-sharp wit and fierce determination awaken new purpose and admiration in him. To protect her, he will once again delve into the treacherous world of espionage. To win her love, he will do almost anything…
**4.5 Absolutely Delightful Stars**
I LOVED this novella! It is a captivating and heart-warming story and made a lovely interlude between the darkness and intensity of the other books in this series. It brings together two secondary characters from the previous books – Lord Byron Cartwright, the Earl of Wyndham (friend to Lord Ian Blake, the hero of the first book, The Dark Lady) and Clare, Duchess of Duncliffe (stepmother to Mary, the heroine of the second book, Lady in Red).
Byron is a wonderful hero. There is something so adorable about him, with his easy charm and his propensity for quoting Shakespeare. He has experienced the horrors of war but hasn’t let it taint his view of life. His optimism is contagious.
“I am saying that there are things more wondrous in this world, more full of magic than we could ever imagine. And I, for one, despite the terrible things I have seen or perhaps because of them, choose to believe in them.”
He is an uncomplicated person and his dreams are simple…a quiet life, a wife who loves him and children.
As a young woman of only seventeen, Clare married the Duke of Duncliffe with expectations of happiness, only to discover that her husband was cruel and abusive.
…her gaze bore that haunted mark of one who had seen hell and lived to tell the tale.
Now twenty-five and a widow, she devotes her time to helping other abused women. Her life is her work and she has long since given up any hope of love. Understandably, she is wary of men.
Ms Claremont’s writing perfectly conveys the mood of this enchanting romance. Here are a few of my favourite moments.
How could he do that? With two words? How could he somehow wrap her up in the safety of his voice and presence?
Right now, she was in hiding, for goodness ’ sake. And the man leading her to God knew where kept spouting Shakespeare and making inappropriate remarks.
The soft brush of Lord Wyndham’s lips sent Clare reeling. In all her life, she’d never been kissed. Not like this. Not this kind of kiss that every girl imagined and cherished in her heart.
This was the stuff of knights and their ladies, of Abelard and Eloise, of Darcy and Elizabeth, of Jane and Rochester, of every romance she’d ever read. How she’d longed for it.
The mystery element never overshadows the romance and, although you don’t have to be a great detective to guess the identity of the person threatening Clare, I was so captivated by the characters that it didn’t really matter.
This novella may be short in terms of page count but Ms Claremont’s delightful and heart-warming tale captured my heart.
REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
Read April 2014
The Mad Passions series (click on the book cover for further details):