(Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, #2)
Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)
They are England’s most eligible bachelors, with the most scandalous reputations. But for the right woman, even an unrepentant rogue may mend his ways…
Born to the street but raised within the aristocracy, Drake Darling can’t escape his sordid beginnings. Not when Lady Ophelia Lyttleton snubs him at every turn, a constant reminder he’s not truly one of them. But after rescuing her from a mysterious drowning he realizes she doesn’t remember who she is. With plans to bring her to heel, he insists she’s his housekeeper—never expecting to fall for the charming beauty.
While Ophelia might not recall her life before Drake, she has little doubt she belongs with him. The desire she feels for her dark, brooding employer can’t be denied, regardless of consequences. So when her memory returns, she is devastated by the depth of his betrayal. Now Drake must risk everything to prove she can trust this rogue with her heart once more.
I loved this book! Lorraine Heath is a consummate storyteller and weaves a captivating and deeply emotional love story laced with delightful touches of humour.
Drake owes a debt of gratitude to the Duke and Duchess of Greystone who took him in off the streets, gave him a home and raised him as if he were their own son. He has always tried to make them proud of him but he has never felt that he really belongs in their world. Raised on the streets and the son of a convicted murderer hanged for his crime, Drake is constantly haunted by his sordid past. He believes his father’s tainted blood runs through his veins…that one day he won’t be able to control his temper and he will strike out with his fists just as his father had.
But no matter how far I journeyed, I could not escape my sordid beginnings. I could not be anything other than what I was born to be.
This belief is only reinforced by the haughty, spoiled Lady Ophelia Lyttleton who never misses an opportunity to rebuff him and remind him publically of his common origins. So when he rescues her from drowning in the Thames and discovers that she has lost her memory, he sees it as the perfect opportunity to exact revenge for all her slights…let her have a taste of what’s it is like to be a servant. So he leads her to believe that she is his housekeeper, a ruse he only intends to continue until he can find out why she was in the Thames and why no-one is looking for her. As the time passes, Drake sees a very different woman emerging…a woman who is “far too layered, far too intriguing, far too distracting”. He is reluctant to let her go but afraid of what might happen should she regain her memory.
Ms Heath does a wonderful job of transforming the dislikeable Ophelia into “Phee” whom I adored. Stripped of her memories, she is no longer constrained by the rigid rules instilled into her by her father or haunted by her dark, shameful secrets. She is free to be the woman she truly wants to be. Just as Drake sees a lady he has never seen before, so I saw a young woman who is warm, kind and compassionate; who has no hesitation in confronting a brute of a man who is abusing his horse or taking in stray animals; who finds contentment in her work and happiness in her life.
Even if she had all her memories, she doubted she’d recall a moment when she’d been happier.
Phee is able to see Drake for the first time with unprejudiced eyes…
A remarkable man with so much good in him, good he failed to recognize.
…a man who makes her feel safe and cherished.
Ms Heath develops the romance between Drake and Phee so beautifully and I loved every tender, poignant, sensual, passionate, funny, heart-warming and heart-breaking moment of it. There is one particularly memorable scene involving a bath tub, a bar of soap and a dragon tattoo which I guarantee will make you hotter than the steaming water in that tub!!
The scene where the Duke of Greystone gives Drake the specially engraved watch is so moving and when Drake calls him “father”, the tears were streaming down my face.
There is a wonderful Epilogue and Drake’s entry in his journal just tugs at the heart strings.
How I imagine Drake –
How I Imagine Phee –
MY VERDICT: An enchanting love story with characters that will capture your heart. Highly recommended.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 Stars
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
Read May 2015