(Victorian Rebels, #2)
Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)
They’re rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards—dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the proper Victorian-era ladies who love them, a hint of danger only makes their hearts beat faster…
A scandalous proposal.
As one of London’s most elite hunters, Christopher Argent never misses his mark and always gets his man. But when his latest target turns out to be a woman—the popular, and stunningly beautiful, actress Millie LeCour—it turns his whole world upside-down. Overwhelmed by the heat that simmers between them, Christopher can’t complete his mission. On the contrary, he’ll do anything to save Millie’s life—even if it means risking his own…
A dangerous passion…
When she learns what Christopher was hired to do, Millie is torn between the fear in her heart and the fire in her soul. Putting herself in this dangerous man’s arms may be her only path to safety—but giving in to her desire may be the deadliest mistake she’s ever made. With both of their lives in jeopardy, Millie and Christopher must learn to trust the real feelings they’re hiding—to find the true love they’re looking for…
After reading The Highwayman, the first book in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series last year, I knew I had found an author who was willing to push the established boundaries of historical romance with her dark, gritty, compelling stories and dangerous, tormented anti-heroes. The Hunter certainly didn’t disappoint.
We were introduced to the mysterious Christopher Argent, in The Highwayman as Dorian Blackwell’s business associate and a cold, ruthless assassin who kills for money without either emotion or remorse. He has accumulated so much wealth that he has no need to accept any more contracts, but killing is all he knows and he’s an expert at what he does. His latest target is Millicent (Millie) LeCour, a popular actress, but when he sees her on stage he is affected in a way he has never experienced before.
It happened again. That curious little jolt in the cavern of his ribs. It was the same when she’d smiled at him from the stage. A startle of sensation. A current of awareness that singed along the nerves beneath his skin with warmth and maybe a touch of pleasure.
Christopher is still determined to fulfil the contract, but ultimately he cannot bring himself to take Millie’s life. Instead, he offers her a bargain – he will protect Millie and her son, Jakub, for one night in her bed. It is a bargain that is to change his life irrevocably.
Millie is a beautiful, talented and popular actress who thrives on the adoration of her audience but she has secrets which force her to keep everyone, other than her son, at arm’s length. Thoughts of marriage or even taking a lover are out the question because her secrets could endanger both her own and her son’s life. Jakub is the most important person in her life and she will do anything to protect him, even make a pact with the devil himself…no matter that the devil comes in the form of a man who has made a number of attempts on her life. She has no reason to trust Christopher Argent and every reason to fear him but…
Millie acknowledged that, in the instance, she didn’t need a white knight, but a shadow that could traverse the darkness with cunning and speed of that lethal viper.
I went into this book with doubts that Ms Byrne could make me sympathetic towards a stone-hearted killer like Christopher Argent but, from the moment I’d finished reading the powerful and gut-wrenching Prologue, my heart ached for the young Christopher. No-one could endure everything he did and retain any shred of humanity.
It (killing) was all he knew. All he was good at. And never in his life had he questioned his place, never looked back into the abyss of the past. Never thought of that pathetic, powerless boy he’d once been.
Or of that night he’d lost his soul.
Meeting Millie has him confused and unable to understand what’s happening to him because, until now, he has cut himself off from all human emotions. Watching him struggle with his newly discovered feelings is so compelling and one of my favourite scenes is where Dorian describes to him what love feels like. I love how we see small glimpses that show Christopher still has a shred of humanity in him; his overwhelming need to protect Millie and her son and how gentle he is with Jakub. The scene where Christopher sings the same lullaby to Jakub that his mother used to sing to him was so poignant.
I love Millie’s warmth, strength, intelligence, courage and her overwhelming love for her son. Her life hasn’t been easy but she had the determination and passion to achieve her ambition of becoming an actress. This makes her a worthy match for Christopher. She may fear him but that doesn’t stop her threatening him, as she does when he tries to wake her at what she considers to be an ungodly hour.
“And if you wake me before nine in the morning again, I’ll pâté your liver and have it with my breakfast. Now get out.”
Millie feels compassion for Christopher when she discovers everything he suffered as a young boy; it helps her understand him more and what horrors made him into the heartless killer he became. She also realises that he must break the chains of the past before he can tread a different path in life. I like how Ms Byrne doesn’t try to redeem Christopher because nothing can ever erase his past deeds. Intrinsically, she doesn’t change who he is but offers him in the words of Inspector Morley…
“A different life. A better path. The chance to be a force for good. To be a better man.”
The love scenes are steamy, intense and often explicit but I think they perfectly reflect Christopher’s changing emotional state. I especially love the scene where Christopher believes he is making love to Millie in a dream…a dream that always turns into a nightmare but this time it doesn’t. It is such an emotional scene revealing Christopher’s fears and vulnerability when it comes to Millie.
I loved Jakub, Millie’s son, who is such an intelligent and inquisitive child. There are some delightful scenes between Jakub and Christopher including this one when Jakub announces…
“I like you, Mr. Argent,” he announced. “I like that you don’t lie to me because I’m not yet a man. You can go on kissing my mother if you want, so long as you don’t ruin her.”
Dorian and Farah (The Highwayman) play an important role in the story and I enjoyed seeing them still very much in love. I also enjoyed the scenes between Dorian and Christopher which provide some light-hearted moments. It is wonderful to see a genuine friendship forming between these two.
I found the mystery plot engrossing but there are some realistically brutal and violent parts which may not be to everyone’s taste. One of the villains commits crimes that are particularly heinous and there are some twists and turns before the identity of the person who wants Millie killed and the fate of the missing boys are revealed.
Although there is no Epilogue (but perhaps we will see more of Christopher and Millie in the next book), I did love the ending with some heart-felt, romantic words from Christopher and a little drollery from Millie and Welton, the butler.
MY VERDICT: If you are in the mood for something compelling and intense with a suspenseful plot, fascinating characters and a darkly emotional romance, I can definitely recommend The Hunter.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
Read August 2016
Victorian Rebels series so far (click on the book covers for more details):
**I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for a honest review.”