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ABANDONED AT THE ALTAR SERIES BOOK 2

ONE TRYST WAS ALL SHE WANTED …

From their very first meeting, Julia knew that Aidan Carr, the oh-so-proper Duke of Trathen, had a bit of the devil in him, a devil who secretly yearned for what he could not have, a devil who harbored a desire for her. So when she needed to be caught in a compromising situation, Aidan was the answer to her prayers.

ONE TRYST JUST WASN’T ENOUGH …

Aidan is supposed to be looking for a bride, yet his scandalous liaison with Julia is all he can think about. Hot, erotic memories of kissing her skin, falling into her bed, pulling her naked body on top of his own continue to torment and tempt him. What is it about this brazen seductress that he finds so hard to resist? And how can he stop himself from falling into her bed a second time?

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I loved this book!   It’s such a compelling and emotionally satisfying love story with a hero and heroine who simply captured my heart.

Having been introduced to Julia and Aidan in Wedding of the Season, the first book in this series, I was  intrigued to see how Ms Guhrke would bring two such dissimilar people together. Julia is brash, impudent, immoral, dances until dawn, smokes and drives too fast. Aidan is a gentleman, honorable, kind, understanding and always striving to do the right thing. Not exactly a match made in heaven! However, there’s far more to Julia than meets the eye and Aidan’s thoughts are not always honorable.

Julia is such a complex and fascinating character. As her secrets are gradually revealed, it’s like fitting the parts of a jigsaw puzzle together and, only when the last piece is in place, does the real Julia emerge. You see beyond the woman scandalizing society with her outrageous behaviour and numerous affairs, to the vulnerable woman desperately trying to escape a hellish marriage, which has left her emotionally scarred.

I love her strength, resilience and courage in choosing to fight back rather than be a victim of her husband. When she finally reveals the truth about her marriage to Aidan, it puts all her actions into perspective and I totally sympathized with her plight. It also reveals the prevailing attitude towards women and divorce. Yardley’s behaviour wasn’t considered grounds for divorce by the lawyers of the day and, if Julia had tried to reveal publicly what he was like, she would have been condemned for her lack of discretion because wives aren’t supposed to air their dirty linen in public. It does make you glad to be living in the 21st century!

I adore Aidan! Probably something to do with that handsome face and those warm, steady eyes that Julia was always drawn to. He’s honorable, honest and trustworthy with a deep sense of duty. In fact, he’s the epitome of a gentleman with only one weakness – his desire for Julia. In flashbacks, we learn how they first met each other when they were both seventeen and how Julia made such an impression on Aidan.

He’d never before been given a view like this – a view of shapely calves, delicate ankles and slender feet boldly displayed in broad daylight. Adolescent lust began coursing through his body in the space of two heartbeats, a sudden, powerful wave that disconcerted him, embarrassed him, and robbed him of the ability to think or even breathe.

Although their lives go in very different directions, when they meet again many years later, Aidan fears that when it came to Lady Yardley, he was in fact hopelessly depraved. I love how he thinks he can discipline himself in mind and body to conquer his desire for Julia but fails completely.

The final love scene between them is such a wonderful combination of eroticism, sensuality and tenderness. Aware of Julia’s inherent fears, I adore Aidan for wanting to make everything as pleasurable as possible for her. He constantly coaxes her into saying what she’s feeling so he knows what pleases her and this makes for some very steamy moments! Ultimately, it’s an emotional and sexual healing process for Julia and I love the way she expresses how she feels afterwards.

She was awake and alive, and the world was full of new beginnings and glorious possibilities. She was still a bit wobbly and weak like a colt trying to walk on shaky legs. But with Aidan’s arms around her, she didn’t mind any of that, because for the first time in over twelve years she was truly free. She was free, she was beautiful and she had just made love with a man for the very first time.
Julia let the tears fall.

I do have a soft spot for Julia’s ill-mannered, belligerent, man-hating bulldog, Spike, who provides some funny moments in the book. My favourite is where Aidan is determined to prove that Julia is attracted to him, despite her denials, and challenges her to meet him in the maze at midnight and prove she can resist his advances. What he doesn’t count on is for her to arrive with Spike in tow! What follows is an hilarious moment when Aidan suddenly takes on the unsuspecting Spike.

With a savage sound that caused Julia to jump back in alarm, Aidan moved. Within the blink of an eye, he’d taken Spike by the muzzle and hip and pushed him down onto his side in the grass and using his superior body weight, he kept the animal firmly pinned. “No,” he said in a calm, firm voice. “No, Spike”.

What a picture that conjured up !

SCANDAL OF THE YEAR is a beautifully crafted love story.  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

RATING: ★★★★★

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ABANDONED AT THE ALTAR SERIES BOOK 1

The duke may have returned, but she has no intention of falling back into his arms…

Abandoned at the altar…

Lady Beatrix Danbury had always known she would marry William Mallory. She’d loved him forever, and she’d never doubted he loved her, too. But when she made him choose between their life together or his lifelong dream, Will chose the latter…and left two weeks before their wedding.

Return of the duke…

Will has no illusions that Beatrix would welcome him back with open arms, but six years did not dim his love or desire for her. The only problem is, she’s about to marry someone else. Someone safe and predictable…the complete opposite of Will. But can he stop the wedding of the season and win Beatrix back, or is it just too late?

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WEDDING OF THE SEASON, the first book in Laura Lee Guhrke’s ‘Abandoned at the Altar’ series,  is a charming ‘second chance on love’ story.

I love the early Edwardian setting for this book. It’s a time of far-reaching social and economic changes when the role of women in society is evolving and the balance of power is moving away from the landed aristocracy to the nouveau riche industrialists. Ms Guhrke captures this changing world perfectly and having the story set in the picturesque village of Babbacombe, South Devon, rather than the hurly-burly of London, is so refreshing.

Six years ago, Trix and Will had conflicting dreams that drove them apart. Will wanted adventure and travel and not the life he was born to:

“Yes, there was my whole life laid out before me before I was even out of short pants. Can you blame me when a life I’d only dreamed of opened up?”

while Trix wanted security and stability:

“I want marriage and a home of my own. That precious excavation site of yours didn’t even include a house. I wanted children. Just where was I supposed to have them? In a tent?”

Neither was willing to compromise on their dreams, and when they meet again, this conflict still proves to be a stumbling block.

At first, Will’s determination to go to Egypt seems selfish and irresponsible.  But in reality he realises the British aristocracy is in decline and, in order to keep his estate solvent,  he needs to either earn money or marry into money.  So he invests his inheritance in finding Tutankhamen’s tomb knowing success will bring a secured income for life. He considers this preferable to leading a life of pointless duties and silly social rituals. Even though it’s risky, I can’t help but admire his forward thinking.

He’s honest in admitting he’s never stopped loving Trix and in his determination to win her back – “I want to win you back. I want you in my arms, in my bed, in my life.” Even if he doesn’t succeed this time, he’s determined to keep coming back in the hope of changing her mind.

Trix’s reluctance to venture beyond the realm of duty and tradition can be laid squarely at her father’s door. Her mother ran away to Paris when Trix was very young, and her father became became overprotective in an effort to ensure she never left him. After her father’s death, she does show a little more independence but only after encouragement from her scandalous cousin, Julia, Baroness Yardley.

She’s determined not to let Will back into her life. After all he broke her heart and left her with only shattered dreams. In her new fiancé, Aidan, Trix sees someone who is the total opposite of Will, dependable and considerate and able to provide her with the kind of stable life she wants. It may be a passionless marriage, but she’s more than willing to accept a marriage based on affection, mutual respect and shared aspirations for their future.

I love the whole idea of Will persuading Trix to go on a series of adventures with him, just as they did when they were children, in order to regain her trust. These childhood reminiscences really provide a wonderful background to the story and add depth to the characters. These adventures certainly heighten the sexual tension between the two.  I love the scene where Will suddenly turns up at Pixy Cove, where Trix is drawing, and starts to strip to go bathing and Trix can’t stop staring at his body!

His shoulders and chest were wide, tanned by the hot Egyptian sun and shaped by years of hard excavation into a bronze wall of muscle and sinew. His chest tapered down to an absolutely flat stomach, and his trousers were slung low on his lean hips, revealing the deep indent of his navel and the shadowy hint of dark hair below it. Her gaze dropped another notch, she gave a choked sound and hastily forced her gaze back up, but only managed to get as far as the flat brown disks of his nipples.

I know there are varying opinions about the ending but it really worked for me. Of course, the happy-ever-after is never in any doubt but I loved the wonderful will they/won’t they moment and finally closed the book with a satisfied sigh.

If you are looking for a charming love story with a more unusual setting, then look no further than WEDDING OF THE SEASON.

RATING: ★★★★½

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