(The Hellions of Havisham, #2)
Genre: Historical Romance (Late Victorian)
One summer night, Edward Alcott gives in to temptation and kisses Lady Julia Kenney in a dark garden. However, the passion she stirs within him is best left in the shadows as she weds his twin, the Earl of Greyling. But when tragedy strikes, to honor the vow he makes to his dying brother, Edward must pretend to be Greyling until the countess delivers her babe.
After her husband returns from a two-month sojourn, Julia finds him changed. Bolder, more daring, and more wicked—even if he does limit their encounters to kisses. With each passing day, she falls more deeply in love.
For Edward the embers of desire sparked on that long-ago night are quickly rekindled. He yearns to be her husband in truth. But if she discovers his ruse, she will despise him—and English law prevents him from marrying his brother’s widow. Yet he must dare to risk everything and reveal his secrets if he is to truly take all.
Once again, Lorraine Heath enchanted me with this beautifully written and deeply emotional love story. It takes an exceptional writer to make such a challenging and potentially unpopular plot line work and, although I know some readers will disagree, I think she does this brilliantly.
“Do you know what I think, Allie? I think the weasel— who is supposed to be the villain of our tale— may just turn out to be the hero.”
For me, the success of this book hinged on Ms Heath’s ability to make me see Edward as a worthy hero and Julia’s words to her daughter echo my thoughts precisely (the weasel reference makes sense when you read the book).
Edward has always accepted his place as the second son without ever being envious or jealous of Albert. He is happy receiving an allowance and living a life free of responsibility. Early on, we learn that Edward has had feelings for Julia ever since they first met, but he loved his brother too much to do anything to hurt him. So he was willing to cultivate a disreputable reputation in order to protect Albert and Julia from any potential gossip.
I felt so much sympathy for Edward. He is caught between a rock and a hard place. He must fulfil the promise he made to his brother knowing just how devastating it will be when he has to admit the truth to Julia.
In manner, thought, and deed, he had to become the Earl of Greyling. At least until Julia delivered the heir.
Then he would be obliged to do what he did best: give her another reason to hate him by revealing the truth, breaking her heart, and shattering her world.
Constantly thrown into intimate situations with Julia, Edward struggles to keep his passion for her in check. I could feel his torment…to know that everything Julia did, said or felt wasn’t for him but for the man she thought he was.
Edward shows his true colours in so many ways. He has never wanted responsibility, but he steps up to oversee the running of his late brother’s estate, even before he officially becomes the Earl of Greyling. He shows his care and compassion when he personally looks after Mrs Lark and her family even at risk to himself. Who could not fail to love a man who is so gentle and tender with his little niece.
Nanny was sitting in a chair with a lamp burning low and a book in her hands. Not Alberta. She wasn’t holding Alberta.
Edward was. Lying on Nanny’s bed, his eyes closed, Alberta on his chest, her knees tucked beneath her so her tiny bum was sticking up in the air. Pillows formed a barrier on either side of his body so if she rolled she wouldn’t roll far. Not that Julia thought she was likely to move at all. One of his large hands was splayed over her back, holding her in place.
Julia see changes in her husband and puts these down to the effects of travelling with his friends. He has become more forceful, more determined and more attentive, all of which makes him more appealing and she finds herself falling more madly in love with him.
His touches came more frequently, his interest in her more intense. He seemed to care about every aspect of her. She thought she’d loved him as much as it was possible to love any man. Strange to realize that she loved him a little bit more each day.
Although she missed Albert, in his absence Julia has changed becoming more independent, more confident and making her own decisions. I love that she is not as prim and proper as she appears. She has always wanted to be sexually imaginative but feared her rather upright husband would be appalled.
I was just waiting for the moment that Julia would discovers Edward’s deception, and when she does I could feel all her pain and the subsequent scene in the mausoleum is so heart-breaking. At this point, it was impossible to imagine how their relationship could ever be salvaged but Ms Heath gradually brings them back together again. There is still one apparently insurmountable obstacle to overcome, but I found that Ms Heath’s note at the end of the book, in which she highlights her research into this particular aspect, not only provides some interesting historical background but also a believable path to Edward and Julia’s Happy Ever After.
I love the idea of Julia’s whimsical creatures and I also enjoyed seeing Ashe, Minerva and Locke. For those of you who love Epilogues, there is a lovely heart-warming one
MY VERDICT: Lorraine Heath weaves a complex, captivating and beautiful love story. Highly recommended!
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Read April 2016
The Hellions of Havisham series so far (click on the book covers for more details):