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Posts Tagged ‘Tormented Hero’

(Wicked Wagers, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

They Say Revenge is Sweet…

Marcus Danvers, the Marquis of Wolverstone, is renowned for his cynical demeanor. It’s rumored that long ago, a beautiful woman broke his heart. Now he lives life for pleasure. He’s the consummate, handsome rake. If anyone tries to get too close—let’s just say his bark is as bad as his bite. That is, until the beautiful, as she is deceitful, Contessa Orsini re-enters his life with a wager he cannot resist. When he wins, he’ll have Sabine exactly where he wants her—in his bed and at his mercy.

Forced to return to England and avenge her father’s death, Sabine knows the one person who can help her is the only man she has ever loved—Marcus. The man who hates her with as much passion as he once loved her. But Marcus doesn’t know that by winning the wager he’ll also be getting his revenge. For there are some secrets best left buried…

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This is the second novella in the Wicked Wagers series and, whilst I enjoyed it, I did have some issues with the heroine’s actions which affected my final star rating.

This was much darker than the first book with its theme of revenge. For ten long years, Marcus has never forgiven or forgotten  Sabine’s cruel betrayal of his love. He had been willing to sacrifice everything for her. When Sabine, now Contessa Orsini, a rich Italian widow, asks him for help in exacting revenge on the man who ruined her father and caused her parents’ deaths, he sees a way of gaining his own revenge…she will become his lover until he tires of her.

I could almost taste the anger and bitterness in Marcus’s crude and cruel words when Sabine approaches him at Lady Somerset’s ball and I thought this was such an evocative description.

His fury swarmed around her like a smothering sand storm— abrasive and deadly.

I really felt for Sabine. All her dreams destroyed and then forced to keep terrible secrets in order to protect those she loved. The only light in her lonely life over the past ten years has been her son, Alfredo…he gave her the will to live. I admired how much she loves her son despite the circumstances of his birth and will do anything to protect him. She has never stopped loving Marcus and I could feel the intense pain caused by his harsh words. It was heart-breaking to know that she longed for something she knew could never have…

Tenderness, love and his heart.

When it comes time for Marcus to take his personal revenge on Sabine, he doesn’t feel elated as he imagined he would. It is evident that he still has deep feelings for her.

He’d forced her to her come to him like a whore— bought and paid for.
“Bloody hell,” he muttered.
A sharp pang of regret sliced through him. What he wanted was for her to come to him of her own accord. To tell him she’d made a mistake all those years ago and that he was the only man she’d ever loved. Then he wanted to start to learn how to believe in her and trust her again.

He even gives her the option to leave but, of course, she chooses to stay. I enjoyed how they talked first and how the love scene was a combination of tenderness and raw sensuality.

I did have issues with Sabine’s actions where the villainous Lord Gower was concerned. It was almost a TSTL (too stupid to live) moment when she gloats over her success in causing his financial ruin, only to have him turn the tables on her and gain the upper hand. She took some foolhardy decisions which not only put her own life in danger but also the lives of those she loved, the one thing she had always been determined to avoid. I just wanted her to tell Marcus the whole truth and let him handle it!

I did like Lady Amy Shipton very much. She’s beautiful and intelligent but also compassionate and refuses to marry Marcus when she knows his heart lies elsewhere. She is deserving of her own Happy Ever After to a man worthy of her love.

FAVOURITE ROMANTIC QUOTE:

“I’m truly the luckiest man in the world now. I’m living proof that love conquers all; that love, with time and forbearance, overcomes all wickedness.”

Overall, although I did have some issues as mentioned above, I did enjoy this book but not as much as To Dare of Duke of Dangerfield.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read March 2015

Wicked Wagers series (click on the book covers for more details):

To Dare the Duke of Dangerfield (Wicked Wagers, #1) by Bronwen Evans To Wager the Marquis of Wolverstone (Wicked Wagers, #2) by Bronwen Evans To Challenge the Earl of Cravenswood (Wicked Wagers, #3) by Bronwen Evans

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Genre: Contemporary Romance

Cover Blurb:

When opposites attract!

Damaso Pires should have known better than to get involved with Marisa—the scandalous princess of Bengaria! Yet soon he sees her true beauty and flawless virtue, which touches a place in him he thought ruthlessly destroyed by his childhood on the streets of Brazil.

But their brief affair becomes permanent when Marisa reveals she’s pregnant.

Damaso knows the sting of illegitimacy and, having fought tooth and nail to claw his way up to the dizzying heights of international success and financial infamy, he won’t let his child slip from his grasp. There’s only one way to claim his heir, and that’s marriage!

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I don’t read many contemporary romances but there are a few authors whose books I really enjoy and Annie West is one of them. Her books are always intense, emotional and sensual.

Damaso

Damaso is a survivor. Through a combination of determination, hard work and luck, he dragged himself up from the poverty of the Brazilian slums to become successful and fabulously wealthy, surrounding himself with beautiful things. In business, he is ruthless and single-minded, used to giving orders and having then obeyed. He has always been a loner and never indulges in long-term relationships…he guards his heart carefully.

When he meets Princess Marisa he feels an intense attraction and, with her wild reputation, she would be perfect for short vacation affair. However, he doesn’t count on the feelings she evokes in him that send him high-tailing it in the opposite direction.

Marisa

Princess Marisa is desperate to live her own life but her uncle, now King of Bengaria, after the tragic death of her beloved twin brother, controls both her life and her funds. The press have hounded her since she was fifteen, portraying her as “a little, slut, uncontrollable and without morals”. She has been stripped of everything except her pride. She feels lonely and isolated, longing to be wanted for herself and not because of her royal status. She had trusted men before and been sorely disappointed.

When she meets Damaso, she feels a bond between them and is willing to reach out and trust herself to a man again, only to be hurt and disillusioned. When she discovers that she is pregnant, Damaso is insistent that they marry.

Despite his dictatorial attitude towards Marisa, I admire Damaso’s determination that his child would not grow up abandoned and neglected like he was. The child would have a father and be cared for and nurtured

I like how their relationship develops gradually as they learn more about each other and how it changes each of them. Damaso sees that Marisa is very different to the picture painted by the media. He finds he actually likes her and sees the hurt and pain she tries to hide behind the wild party girl image. It is the first time Damaso has truly cared about anyone else and I love how all his protective instincts come to the fore when Marisa tells him about her uncle and the press vilification of her:

He wanted to grab her uncle and the media piranhas by their collective throats and choke some apologies out of them.

and the tender emotions he feels:

He wanted to crush Marisa in his arms and hold her until the pain went away.

When Marisa visits the community centre in the poor area, Damaso is furious but refuses to say why. It is only when he tells Marisa about his young life that I truly understood him, not just his fears for Marisa’s safety but also that Marisa’s reaction to discovering where he grew up would be one of disgust. The picture he paints of his life is heart-rending but it made me admire him all the more for rising above his origins. It was a world where emotions had no place if you wanted to survive but meeting Marisa made him re-evaluate his life.

Marisa is unique mixture of fragility and strength and I admire her determination to ensure that her child will not be a pawn in her uncle’s schemes. Her child would have what she never had, love. It was satisfying to watch her find a real purpose in her life and see her genuine warmth and sincerity shine through.

I enjoyed seeing the changes in Damaso and Marisa as they gradually fall in love.

He was Damaso Pires. Powerful, secure, in command of his world.
Yet he’d watched those men eat her up with their eyes and rage had consumed him. Rage and jealousy.
The realisation hit him with full force.
He didn’t do jealousy.
Damaso shook his head.
He did now.

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Damaso was inextricably part of her life now. As her child’s father and more, much more.

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“I love you, Marisa, with all my heart and soul. I want to be your husband, because there’s no other woman in the world more perfect for me than you. “

Overall, an emotionally satisfying and sensual love story.

REVIEW RATING: 4/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

Read March 2015

**My sincere thanks to Annie West for providing me with a copy of her book in return for an honest review.**

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(Scandalous Seasons, 1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb

Hopeless romantic, Lady Emmaline Fitzhugh, is tired of sitting with the wallflowers, waiting for her betrothed to come to his senses and marry her. When Emmaline reads one too many reports of his scandalous liaisons in the gossip rags, she takes matters into her own hands.

War-torn veteran, Lord Drake devotes himself to forgetting his days on the Peninsula through an endless round of meaningless associations. He no longer wants to feel anything, but Lady Emmaline is making it hard to maintain a state of numbness. With her zest for life, she awakens his passion and desire for love.

The one woman Drake has spent the better part of his life avoiding is now the only woman he needs, but he is no longer a man worthy of his Emmaline. It is up to her to show him the healing power of love.

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FOREVER BETROTHED, NEVER THE BRIDE is the first book I have read by Christi Caldwell and I was totally captivated by this charming, romantic, funny and poignant story.

Drake resents the fact that his future had been mapped out for him since he was a young boy. Desperate to escape the exacting expectations imposed by his father, he enlists in the army only to find himself caught up in the horrors of the Napoleonic war…a war that he can never forget.

He would never escape the war. His mind would forever remain on the bloody fields of battle.

Sleepless nights, hellish nightmares and bouts of lost self-control convince him that he is a madman. To retain a hold on sanity, he buries himself in mindless pursuits… drink and women…his relationships devoid of any emotional connection. He has no intention of marrying…he has no intention of submitting any woman to his dark nightmares. Although betrothed to Emmaline for fifteen years, their contact has been limited and, since his return from the war, he has deliberately avoided her. So he knows very little about Emmaline until one memorable encounter leaves him eager to find out more about his intriguing betrothed.

Wallflowers were content to be dull creatures seated on the sidelines, escaping any notice. They were not clever young ladies with cheeky retorts.

A little over 5 feet tall and lacking the requisite curves, Emmaline is considered rather unremarkable by the ton. Everyone knows she is betrothed and, therefore, honour dictates that no other gentleman can court her. Relegated to being a virtual wallflower and food for the gossips, she has suffered the indignities with only her dear friend, Sophie for moral support. Although she longs for a marriage full of love and passion, her strong sense of loyalty to her father makes her determined to fulfil her obligation and marry Drake. Drastic situations require drastic measures.

“There will be no more opera singers, ballet dancers, young widows, none of it. His days of carefree debauchery are officially at an end. He just doesn’t know it yet, but he will, beginning tonight.”

Oh, Emmeline is such a delightful heroine…mischievous, courageous and funny. Oh yes, she also talks to plants and reads Gothic novels. When she decides to ‘stalk’ Drake, I thought it was hilarious. My favourite scene is when she suddenly appears unannounced in his opera box, proceeds to rebuke him for his behaviour and then makes a dramatic exit, leaving Drake furious.

Drake sputtered around another mouthful of red velvet curtains as Lady Emmaline made her dramatic exit from his opera box. Cursing under his breath, he violently slammed the drapes down, back into place.

I even felt a little sorry for Drake…poor man didn’t know what hit him!

Emmaline’s compassion for and empathy with the soldiers she visits in the London Hospital has earned her their respect, admiration and loyalty. It also helps her to understand Drake and see beyond the protective barrier Drake has erected around himself to the emotionally scarred man beneath. She is perfect for Drake with her warmth, compassion and insight, she makes him laugh and feel alive again.

I love tormented heroes because they always have a tougher time on their road to a happy ending but, it makes their journey more satisfying to me as a reader. Drake’s struggle to confront his wartime experiences and not run from them adds a serious note to the story and the scene where he visits the London Hospital and talks to fellow soldiers is both poignant and heart-warming.

A wave of relief filled him. There was solace in knowing he was not alone – that there were others who shared his struggle.

I love the analogy Emmeline’s brother, Sebastien draws between her old bonnet and Drake and it was a charming touch at the end when Sebastien says to a confused Drake…

“Tell Emmeline to throw out the bonnet I’d given he. Tell her I said her bonnet is just fine.”

Ms Caldwell has gathered an interesting cast of secondary characters, all begging for their own stories; Drake’s best friend, the straight-talking, witty Lord Sinclair (I loved their banter); Emmaline’s bubbly friend and confidante, Sophie Winters and Emmeline’s haughty, over-protective brother Sebastian, Duke of Mallen (he doesn’t stand a chance when Emmeline and their mother gang up against him). There is one more important character I must mention – a little, scruffy, black puppy called Sir Faithful.

Overall, this was an engaging story written with warmth, wit and style and I will definitely be reading the other books in the series.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read September 2014

Scandalous Seasons series (click on the covers for more details):

Forever Betrothed, Never The Bride (Scandalous Seasons, #1) by Christi Caldwell Never Courted, Suddenly Wed (Scandalous Seasons) by Christi Caldwell Always Proper, Suddenly Scandalous (Scandalous Seasons Book 3) by Christi Caldwell Always a Rogue, Forever Her Love (Scandalous Seasons Book 4) by Christi Caldwell

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(The Rumor, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

He’s a fighter, not a lover.
But that’s about to change…

Lady Imogene Norwood lives a sheltered life of quiet respectability and routine…until she debuts at her first Season. There among London’s elite she meets the wild and broken Lord Atwood. And the very shy English rose suddenly realizes that a little chaos might just be what her heart desires.

Lord Nathaniel James Atwood doesn’t believe true love exists. Since scandal tore him away from his family at an early age, he has spent his life fighting for what he wants. That attitude has made him a rising star in bare-knuckle boxing, and now leads him back to London to reclaim the life that was stolen from him. But upon meeting the innocent Imogene, his beliefs are trounced…as guarding his heart against her proves to be the fight of his life.

Personal Note: This book can be read as a standalone but there are some scenes which are mirrored in Forever and a Day (book 1) and Forever a Lady (book 2) although seen from a different character’s point of view. These scenes might, therefore, seem confusing if you haven’t read the earlier books.

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An enthralling, gritty and emotionally charged story.

This is the last book in the addictive The Rumor series and we finally discover the truth of the mystery surrounding Lord Nathaniel Atwood’s kidnapping and what happened to him during all the years he was presumed dead.

Nathaniel’s experiences…being locked in a windowless cellar for five years, his father’s betrayal and abandonment of him and the years spent surviving the dangers of New York’s notorious Five Points…have left him with deep emotional scars and a scandalous secret he can never share. Caught between two worlds…’He was neither fop nor street boy‘…he has never felt that he truly belongs anywhere. He enjoys sex but love isn’t an emotion he has ever felt or wanted to. Boxing is the only thing in his life that makes sense…it is what kept him alive on the streets of Five Points. Beneath that tough exterior, Nathaniel’s heart is in the right place. Together with his friend, Matthew Milton, he created the Forty Thieves and is committed to protecting those vulnerable people living in the slums.

Imogene is an unusual heroine. The abuse she suffered at the hands of her governess when she was a child has left her with health problems…fainting spells and a stutter. She is tired of being defined by her illness and longs to be independent and, therefore, no longer a burden to her brother, Henry. Imogene knows the sacrifices Henry has made to ensure she gets the medical treatment she needs and she longs to see her brother happy.

Delilah Marvelle’s stories are always refreshingly different and her characters infinitely fascinating. The brawny, tough, bare-knuckle boxing Nathaniel seems an unlikely pairing for the sweet, innocent, fragile Imogene who is twenty years his junior, but Ms Marvelle makes their romance work so beautifully. Imogene reveals a maturity beyond her years when she shows Nathaniel the patience, understanding and respect that he has never known before. I love how protective Nathaniel is of Imogene and how he gives her a sense of worth and confidence in herself so she no longer has to rely on others. Nathaniel’s desire to be in control all the time extends to the bedroom and adds some spice to the love scenes. I enjoyed seeing him come to love and trust Imogene enough to relinquish that control.

The boxing scenes are so visually compelling and Ms Marvelle conveys the brutal reality of the fights so powerfully.

I guessed the reason for Nathaniel’s kidnapping before it was actually revealed but there is a very dramatic scene towards the end of the book which I certainly didn’t anticipate.

The Epilogue provided the perfect ending to the series.

How I Imagine Nathaniel…

How I Imagine Imogene…

Memorable Moments

Everything about him was so beautifully raw and real. She didn’t realize a man could make a woman’s toes curl in her own slippers.
It was divine. He was divine.

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Now take your fancy prick of a wig and get him before I put your liver into your hand and make you swallow it through your nostrils.”

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“You underestimate a woman’s worth and her ability to redefine a man. A woman can give you hope in a world that has none. She can fight for you when you have ceased fighting for yourself and everything you believe in.”

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“I’m trying to save your pretty ass from getting spanked.”
Her brow creased. “You shouldn’t use words like that. Or tea is out of the question.
” He rolled his eyes. “Unless tea involves you fully naked with your arms tied behind your back, I’m not interested.”
She gasped. “No waltz for you, either.”

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God, but she was stealing away pieces of his heart. A heart he didn’t know he had to give.

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I am sad to see the end of this series but I will be eagerly waiting to see what other reading pleasures Delilah Marvelle has in store for me.

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read August 2014

The Rumor series (click on the books for more details):

Important Note from Ms Marvelle’s Website:

Bonus Chapters from Forever Mine that were not included in this Prequel Novella are available for free download. These two bonus chapters are the untold story of what happened to Nathaniel from Augustine’s point of view. The publisher removed these two chapters from Forever Mine, despite my insisting upon their importance to the series and the novella. Which is why I am offering them for free. I feel this story and the entire series is incomplete without them, and in my opinion, are critical in understanding Nathaniel’s story whom the entire series is based on. I have provided the link to her website:
http://www.delilahmarvelle.com/#!forever_mine/c19oc

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(A Wicked Games Novella)

Genre:  Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

Victorian England is about to go wild…

Lady Ophelia longs to be independent, daring and bold, but her mother’s illness has stolen the last of her creative fire. Condemned to an isolated country cottage after the death of her idealistic father, she and her mother are forsaken by family and all of society. Disappointed by those she once trusted, Lady Ophelia lovingly nurses her dying mother knowing that her own dreams of being an artist will never be realized. That is until she meets a devilish aristocrat who reawakens her desire to be wild.

Viscount Stark has never known love. Reputed to be a rebel and a rake by all, at heart he is anything but. When he meets Lady Ophelia, he is struck by her haunting presence, dignity, and honor. Will he continue to play his wicked games and risk ruining the last of Lady Ophelia’s wounded heart? Or will he dare to be the gentleman he always wanted to be and unveil a love he never thought possible?

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I loved this novella. It was such a beautiful and moving story of heartbreak and grief but also hope, joy and love.

How I imagine Andrew Colton, Viscount Stark…
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Was he that transparent? Was it so clear that he searched for anything to fill the void that had become his life?

Andrew grew up in a world devoid of love, hardly ever seeing his parents, looked after by nannies. It left a void in his life, one he has filled with aimless pleasures but, deep down, he has always been seeking something more meaningful in his life.

How I imagine Lady Ophelia Darlington…
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She longed to feel it all. To feel anything but the imminent horror of her mother’s lingering illness. An illness that had slowly stolen her mother’s vitality and ensured that any dreams Ophelia had were but distant memories.

Cast aside by her half-brother, after her father died and shunned by society, Ophelia is living in poverty in a small, rundown cottage, caring for her dying mother. Her zest for life and her dreams of becoming an artist have slowly faded beneath the pain and sorrow of losing the person she loves most in the world.

How I imagine Lady Darlington…
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A soft smile played at her lips, one that bore all too much knowledge. No crushed flower was this woman. In that smile, in her withering gaze was an understanding of the world not many ever obtained.

For me, Lady Darlington is the linchpin of the story. She loves her daughter and wants only her happiness. She recognises the goodness in Andrew and knows he is perfect for her daughter. She gives him the mother’s love that he has never had.

Even within the constraints of this novella. Ms Claremont infuses her writing with such emotional depth. Ophelia and Andrew ceased to be simply characters on a page and became people I really cared about. Their journey was my journey. Their hopes and fears, their joy and tears were my hopes and fears, my joy and tears. It’s difficult for me to convey in words just how beautiful and poignant this story is and so here are some moments in the book that touched my heart.

In his eyes for one brief, holy moment, the world spun in a different direction, touched by beauty, touched by hope, touched by a strange sort of wonder.

To his absolute chagrin, to his utter perversity, he was overwhelmed with a dancing, boyish glee.
She’d come.

And so Andrew faced the piano with the mother of his heart, a little boy who finally knew he was loved, and was suddenly aware of how wonderful life could be.

And suddenly she was struck by an alarming realization. He was her other self. Her wild soul

“…I have lost my heart to you, piece by piece. Your strength, your kindness, your passion for life, they have all awakened what I had been so sure was dead. My soul. You have awakened my soul, Ophelia, because you are my other half. The joy to my cynicism. The passion to my jaded nature. You have taught me to live with hope again.”


How I imagine Marcus Trent, Marquis of Vane…
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Once, Vane had been the most mischievous, the most boisterous, and the first to laugh of their school set. Now? The man looked as if he might be suited for the position of undertaker. No. Not undertaker. . . executioner.

Oh yes, Andrew’s friend, the mysterious Marquis of Vane….what secrets is he keeping?  He promises to be an intriguing hero!

Lady Wild is a unique and beautifully written story that is both heart-breaking and uplifting. Highly recommended.


REVIEW RATING:   5/5 STELLAR STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2014

From the Author

My Dearest Readers,

I have a big goal for Lady Wild. I’d like to raise $10,000 of profits for donation to Hospice. My mother died just a little under two years ago. She fought the battle with cancer and ultimately lost. Her last months were spent on Hospice. My father, too, died of cancer and spent his last 3 months on Hospice. It’s such an incredible organization and I don’t know how my mom or dad and I would have made it without the support of the staff. It’s wonderful that so many people raise money for cancer prevention! But I also think it’s important to help those who’ve sadly reached a point in which terminal illness is the reality. Hospice helps with nursing, counselors, medication, and sometimes even bills. They provide relief for the caretaker. I can’t tell you how huge that is. I’m sure many of you already know. So, together, let’s help make the crossing over of a terminally ill person a little more peaceful, a little more loving, a little more free of fear.

If you can snap up Lady Wild and spread the word??? I’d be over the moon! If you can leave a review after you’ve read it? Even better! This is for my parents, and on their behalf, I thank you. Love is a beautiful thing.

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(Lost Lords of Pembrook, #3)

Genre:  Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

Only one woman can break through his heart of stone…

Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright…

Lord Rafe Easton may be of noble blood, but survival taught him to rely only on himself and to love no one. Yet when he sets his eyes on Miss Evelyn Chambers, and earl’s illegitimate daughter, he is determined to have her, if only as his mistress.

After her father’s death, Evelyn Chambers never imagined she would be sold to the highest bidder, yet circumstances give her little choice except to accept the lord’s indecent proposal. Rafe is wealthy, as well as ruthless. Yet his coldness belies deep passion and deeper secrets. If she must be his, Evelyn intends to lay bare everything the Lord of Pembrook is hiding. But dark discoveries threaten to destroy them both until unexpected love guides the last lost lord home.

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Lorraine Heath brings her Lost Lords of Pembrook series to a satisfying conclusion with this emotive, romantic and passionate story.

How I imagine Lord Rafe Easton….
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Nothing touched him, nothing bothered him. Nothing mattered.

I have been waiting for Rafe’s story and I knew it would be angsty. He was only ten years old, the youngest and most vulnerable of the three brothers who escaped that night and the one with the deepest emotional scars. His experiences have left him reclusive, cold and cynical; a man who cares for nothing or no one; a man with dark secrets he has never shared with anyone.

He’d been unable to stop thinking about her since he’d first seen her. She invaded his dreams, inhabited his thoughts, occupied his mind.

I loved watching Rafe trying so hard to deny his feelings for Eve when everything he does reveals just how much he really cares. He takes steps to return the sapphire necklace that her father bought her  nineteenth birthday to her and her father’s portrait for her. He always refuses to use his title but refers to himself as Lord Rafe Easton to get the respect Eve deserves from Madame Charmaine, the dressmaker. He never attends balls but is willing to take Eve to his brother’s ball simply because she wants to dance. Hardly the actions of a man who doesn’t care!

How I imagine Evelyn (Eve) Chambers…
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She possessed a determination, a strength of will that would have had her finding a way to avoid the rookeries.

Eve was so naïve and vulnerable at first having been protected from the harsher realities of life by her father. After her initial distress, I admired her for coming to terms with the reality of her situation and it was satisfying to watch her grow in strength, confidence and determination.

“Mistresses are supposed to take what they’re given and not question it.”
“Is that the law? Is there a law of mistresses somewhere, a book that solicitors study?”

I smiled everytime she stood up to Rafe and particularly when she flaunted his rules for being a mistress.

I loved her determination to make Geoffrey pay for what he did to her and I positively cheered when she confronted him with her head held high. Better still was the scene where she ploughed her fist into his face!

Ms Heath built the sexual tension so well. When Rafe agreed to allow Eve time to adjust to him, it created a delicious sense of anticipation, particularly as Rafe has difficulty keeping his hands off her. My favourite scene is where Rafe finally allows Eve to touch him. There is something so beautiful and sensual about it.

He held her, just held her, while she held him.
Marveled at the wonder of it. So much skin against skin. Silk to satin. Velvety warmth.

Couple kissing

Rafe has always struggled with feelings of anger and resentment towards his brothers for abandoning him. It was satisfying to finally see the seeds of reconciliation between Rafe, Sebastian and Tristan and, when Rafe is in danger, his brothers are prepared to do anything to find him. There is a lovely moment in the Epilogue when I knew that Rafe had finally come home.

Lord of Wicked Temptations delivered everything I look for in historical romance emotional, sensual and romantic; the perfect end to this wonderful series.  Highly recommended!


REVIEW RATING:   5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2014

The Lost Lords of Pembrook series(click on the covers for more details):

She Tempts the Duke (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #1) by Lorraine Heath Lord of Temptation (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2) by Lorraine Heath Deck the Halls With Love (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2.5) by Lorraine Heath Lord of Wicked Intentions (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #3) by Lorraine Heath 

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(Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2)

Genre:  Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright.

Once upon a time, he was Lord Tristan Easton—now he is Crimson Jack, a notorious privateer beholden to none, whose only mistress is the sea. But all that will change when exquisite Lady Anne Hayworth hires his protection on a trip into danger and seduction. . .

Desperation brought Anne to the bronzed, blue-eyed buccaneer. But after the Captain demands a kiss as his payment, desire will keep her at his side. She has never known temptation like this—but to protect her heart, she knows she must leave him behind. Yet Tristan cannot easily forget the beauty—and when they meet again in a London ballroom, he vows he won’t lose her a second time, as fiery passion reignited takes them into uncharted waters that could lead the second lost lord home. . .

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Lorraine Heath is a consummate story teller and I love this beautifully written
and totally captivating love story

How I imagine Lord Tristan Easton/Captain Crimson Jack…
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Once Lord Tristan Easton, he is now the roguish, sexy, witty, adventure-loving Captain Crimson Jack but he still bears the emotional scars of leaving Pembrook all those years ago.

From the moment he’d galloped away from Pembrook, he’d sworn that he would never complain, whine, or cry about the unfairness of life. He’d buried deeply anything that could hurt him, because it had very nearly destroyed him to leave all that he loved.

He has built a wall around his heart so nothing could ever hurt him again; he had become his own man, strong and independent. Having tried to return to his former life as a lord, he knew he could never embrace society and would always return to his first love, the sea.

…he couldn’t imagine giving up his roving life, his ship, his unencumbered existence.

Tristan gives the impression that he doesn’t care about anything but rescuing the young boy ‘Mouse’ from being eaten by sharks shows just how deeply he cares about others.

How I imagine Lady Anne Hayworth…

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She loved Walter, but during their last night together before he left, she’d hurt him with words and deeds. Perhaps if she hadn’t, he would have come home. She needed to apologise, to ask forgiveness.

For the past two years, Anne has been in mourning for her fiancé, Walter, who fought and died in the Crimea but now her father and brothers are urging her to return to society and find a husband. She feels so much guilt and regret about the argument she and Walter had before he left and desperately needs to go to Scutari to say a final farewell to him. I appreciated that Anne genuinely loved Walter and he wasn’t portrayed as unworthy of her which happens in so many romances.

Anne loves her father and brothers but feels smothered by them because of their belief that, as a woman, she needs looking after. I thought it was a nice touch that she considers her brothers the worst gossips.

Their initial meeting in the tavern is so entertaining. I had this vivid mental picture of the disreputable looking Tristan, sprawled in his chair, insolently eyeing the very proper Anne up and down and responding to her request for help with a mocking smile:

“Depends on what sort of help you’re needing,” he said. “If it’s an adventure between the sheets—”

“Definitely not!” she snapped at the arrogant cad.
 “Pity.”

I love how Anne stands up to him and thinks of him as a ‘mannerless jackanapes’.

I enjoyed watching their romance gradually unfold and love the scene where Tristan comforts Anne as she stands by Walter’s unmarked grave. It is so poignant and shows just how kind and caring Tristan is.

“I would take your pain if I could,” he said in a low rough voice.
When she thought her heart could ache no more, he bent his head and tenderly brushed his lips over hers, before gathering her into his arms and holding her near.

I like that Anne is willing to break all the rules of propriety to experience what it is like to be Tristan’s lover but she realistic enough to know that he will never marry her. They come from different worlds and Tristan’s first love will always be the sea.

I love how Ms Heath describes that first kiss:

Long. Slow. Leisurely. It was all there, and yet in spite of that, the kiss was wild, untamed, unyielding. It commanded, it tempted, it seduced. Thoroughly, irrevocably.

It’s impossible for Tristan to keep away from Anne even after they get back to London, but she wants something he can’t give her…a husband she sees every day, children and a home on dry land. So she accepts a marriage proposal from Walter’s brother, Lord Chetwyn. I love how she compares Chetwyn to Tristan as comparing an unfolding blossom to a raging storm.

I am so pleased that Chetwyn will be getting a Happy Ever After in the next book because he truly deserves it. He is prepared to face the humiliation of being jilted so that Anne can marry the man she truly loves

The scene when Tristan returns to the ruined tower, where he and his brothers were imprisoned, is such a powerful image and so heart-breaking that it just reduced me to tears.

“I’m not lost anymore, Anne,” he said quietly . “After fourteen years of wandering, I’ve finally found home. You are my safe harbor.”

If this perfect ending wasn’t enough, there is a lovely, heart-warming Epilogue too.

This is such a beautifully crafted and emotionally satisfying love story and only confirms why Lorraine Heath remains one of my all-time favourite authors..


REVIEW RATING:   5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2014

 

The Lost Lords of Pembrook series(click on the covers for more details):
She Tempts the Duke (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #1) by Lorraine Heath Lord of Temptation (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2) by Lorraine Heath Deck the Halls With Love (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #2.5) by Lorraine Heath Lord of Wicked Intentions (The Lost Lords of Pembrook, #3) by Lorraine Heath

 

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED

ABOUT THE BOOK

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(Odin’s Shadow, #1)

Genre: Historical Romance (Viking – 876 AD)

Cover Blurb

Treachery.  Revenge.  Redemption.  Certain themes resonate across the centuries.

Odin’s Shadow is the first book in a series of three about an Irish woman and the two Viking brothers who love her.  The novel is set against the harsh backdrop of the Viking era in the 9th century, a time when the sight of a Viking longship sailing up the coast of Ireland would chill the blood of any man, woman or child.  One young Irish woman, however, is not afraid of these Northmen, and a fateful encounter with one of them changes the course of her life forever.

Selia is a girl on the verge of womanhood, frustrated by the confines of her gender and resentful of the freedom her brother boasts of.  She is intelligent and resourceful in a time when neither is valued in a female, and longs for an escape from her sheltered existence.  Selia is fascinated by the tales of Viking raids told by her maidservant, and her hunger for independence is fed through the stories of heathen ferocity she hears at the woman’s knee.

A decision to sneak to the city’s harbor to view the Viking longships leads to an encounter with Alrik Ragnarson, a charismatic Viking warlord whose outward beauty masks a dark and tortured mind.  With the knowledge that her father is about to announce her betrothal to a man she doesn’t love, Selia marries Alrik and within a day is on the longship bound for Norway and a new life.

As Selia’s relationship with her new husband grows, her friendship with his brother Ulfrik grows as well.  The tension mounts between the two men, and as Alrik’s character flaws come to light Selia begins to have misgivings about her hasty marriage.  Ulfrik’s desperate love for Selia causes him to reveal a secret from the past that threatens to destroy them all, and Selia is left to make a heart rending choice between the two Viking brothers.

Buy Links:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/412692
(VA95U — coupon code for 25% off on Smashwords website)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GZ446NM

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/odins-shadow-erin-s-riley/1118892412?ean=2940045742191

**Odin’s Shadow is among the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award quarter-finalists.**

 

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EXCERPT

Alrik’s mood remained foul that night. He kept his distance from the men, clenching his hands and muttering to himself. Selia sat with her knees drawn up and her cloak wrapped tightly around her body in an attempt to fade into the background. She kept her eyes on Alrik as he paced like caged animal. Someone was going to get hurt tonight and she could only pray it wouldn’t be her.

The men were restless as well; they too could sense that Alrik’s naturally volatile temperament had reached a dangerous level. They gave him a wide berth and kept their eyes lowered. The normally raucous laughter and bawdy jokes of the evenings were subdued this night. No one wanted to be the man who pushed Alrik beyond the point of no return.

Only Ulfrik dared approach him. He did so with an air of indifference, sipping his ale, as if he were accustomed to the task of having to talk Alrik back from the brink.

“What’s the problem, brother?” he asked quietly, looking at the fire instead of directly at Alrik.

“That’s none of your concern.”

Alrik’s voice had an edge to it that made Selia fear for Ulfrik’s safety. He wouldn’t hurt his own brother, would he? Ulfrik took a few steps away from the fire and motioned for Alrik to follow. He pulled out his sword and raised his eyebrows questioningly at Alrik.

Selia stared, openmouthed. Surely Ulfrik didn’t mean to fight him? No one in their right mind would even consider doing such a thing with Alrik in the state he was in. Alrik grunted and turned away, but then Ulfrik held out his broadsword and pressed the tip of it into Alrik’s shoulder.

Alrik turned back and pulled out his sword in one quick, angry motion. Selia clapped a hand over her own mouth to keep from screaming; she had no desire to watch Ulfrik die tonight. Apparently, Ulfrik had the same thought.

“Left hand, Alrik,” Ulfrik said. “Unless you do want me dead.”

Alrik’s eyes were blazing like the devil incarnate. He ripped off his cloak and slung it aside, and tossed the sword over to his left hand. “Ulfrik Child Lover,” he snarled as he picked up his shield.

“So this is about me, then?” Ulfrik eyed his brother warily.

Alrik lunged toward Ulfrik without answering, and Ulfrik parried the blow with his shield and pushed him back. And again. And again. They did this over and over, like a perilous dance, both sweating and grunting with exertion. Was this Ulfrik’s plan, then—to exhaust Alrik until his anger had dissipated? The brothers circled each other, eyes locked, and then Alrik abruptly spun around and slammed his sword into Ulfrik’s shield with such force that the clearing rang with the impact.

There was a splintering sound as the wooden shield cracked, and a large chunk of it fell away from the metal band that encircled it. The edge of Alrik’s sword met Ulfrik’s shoulder and drew a dark line of blood against his blue shirt.

Selia could take no more. She ran to them and grabbed Alrik’s arm in an attempt to restrain him, but he shook her free and Selia fell on her backside. Alrik stood over her with his sword in his hand, and his eyes were so wild she feared he didn’t even know it was her.

“Stop! Don’t hurt him because you’re angry at me,” she cried out in Irish, too distressed to remember to speak in Norse.

A mummer went through the men, as several quietly inquired what she had said, and someone translated, just as quietly. A man snorted with laughter, and his whisper could just be heard above the others. “I think she’s bedding them both.”

A stunned silence spread over the group. The joke, meant to be heard by only one or two men, had indeed been heard by all. Alrik turned to face them and his eyes locked onto Skagi Ketilson, the man who had spoken. The color drained from Skagi’s face, causing the red scratch marks left by Selia’s fingernails on the day of her abduction to stand out in stark contrast against his white skin.

Alrik lunged toward Skagi with his sword still drawn. Ulfrik tackled him to keep him from running the man through, and at Ulfrik’s urging several men were able to disarm Alrik while he was down. But Alrik somehow managed to pull Skagi to the ground by the legs. The men unsuccessfully tried to restrain their leader as he climbed on top of Skagi and began pummeling him with his fists, to the sickening sound of cracking bone.

Selia scrambled to her feet and cowered against a tree. The men were in an uproar, trying to pull Alrik away, as Skagi screamed and Skagi’s father, Ketill, implored Alrik to stop. But Alrik was a man possessed. He continued to hammer away at Skagi and at anyone else within distance; several of the men, including Ulfrik, had a bloody nose or a rapidly-swelling eye.

Selia caught a glimpse of Alrik’s face and she gasped. The whites of his eyes were visible all around the irises, like a mad dog. He looked wild, feral… inhuman. Berserker, a voice whispered in Selia’s head.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Erin S. Riley has an undergraduate degree in psychology and a graduate degree in clinical counseling. She is also a board certified lactation consultant. Since Erin was a child, she has been fascinated with human nature and what motivates behavior. She enjoys writing stories that reflect real life: Erin’s books feature complicated, imperfect characters who love deeply, make impulsive decisions, and try again until they get it right.

Erin has a bit of an obsession with all things Viking, and owns an embarrassing number of reference books on Vikings that she reads for fun. While reading about berserkers, she had an epiphany and realized that the crazed, shield-biting men of sagas were actually suffering from a mental illness. On that day the character of Alrik Ragnarson was born.

Erin is drawn to any creative pursuit, from making hand-stitched quilts to producing mini-movies for family and friends from home videos. But writing has always been her passion. When Erin isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her two children, reading anything she can get her hands on, watching football, and renovating her house with her husband of 16 years.

Connect with Erin at: erinsriley@outlook.com

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THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED


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Erin is kindly giving away an ebook copy of ODIN’S SHADOW. To be eligible for the Giveaway, just leave a comment and your email address.

The Giveaway will run for one week May 16-23.

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MY REVIEW

Ms Riley kept me totally riveted with this Viking tale of intrigue, betrayal, jealousy, hatred, dark emotions and powerful passions.

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 Alrik and Ulfrik

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   Selia

Alrik is a dark and seriously flawed hero…more of an anti-hero. He’s cold, cruel and devoid of all human compassion…a man who can kill in cold blood without remorse. As the story unfolds, Ms Riley gradually reveals the fears and insecurities that lurk beneath Alrik’s fearsome exterior; his fear of what he might do when he succumbs to the uncontrollable fits of temper; his fear of going mad like his father did; his possessiveness towards Selia and jealousy of her friendship with Ulfrik; his belief that he is unworthy of love; his fear of allowing himself to care about Selia and being rejected and humiliated. In the moment when he finally tells Selia he loves her, I felt there might just be a chance of redemption for this broken man.

He let his breath out and lifted his head to look at her. “I’m sorry,” he slurred, “for what I did to you… there is no way to make it right. I’m so sorry…” Selia nodded , stroking his hair, as Alrik lowered his head to her breast again. “I love you so much , Selia. Every day it was torture to not come after you.”

I like how Selia is conflicted in her feelings towards Alrik veering between attraction and revulsion when she learns exactly what sort of man he is. She questions the failings in her own character but recognises an affinity to this volatile, unpredictable man. She believes that there is something dark and uncontrollable inside herself which causes her blackouts and terrifyingly real waking dreams, not realising they are the result of traumatic events in her past. Her description of her love for Alrik seems to capture her emotional turmoil perfectly.

Her love for Alrik was a shadowy, desperate thing springing from the depths of her soul.

Ulfrik is the complete opposite of Alrik. He has a conscience about killing women and children. Due to the fate of his birth, he has never quite fitted in and isn’t truly accepted into the family circle. Although he is Alrik’s half-brother, theirs is an uneasy relationship and there is always that underlying tension simmering between them. This finally boils over when Alrik sees Ulfrik comforting Selia after one of her blackouts.

I really felt the pain of his unrequited love for Selia and her rejection of him when he offered to marry her and claim her child as his own.

The sharp little fingers that were wrapped around Ulfrik’s heart sliced deep, ripping and tearing, until the bloody thing was rent from his body in a brutal jerk.

The secondary cast of characters add dimension to the story; Ainnileas, Selia’s brother who can charm his way out of most situations: Hrefna, Alrik’s kind and understanding aunt; Ingrid, Alrik’s volatile daughter; Grainne, Selia and Ainnileas’s mother, so obsessed with revenge to the point of madness.

Ms Riley paints a vivid and often harrowing picture of the brutality of the era as in the blood-curdling attack on the merchant ship or Alrik’s ferocious and bone-shattering attack on Skagi. She also weaves fascinating glimpses of Norse customs throughout the story.

Hrefna paused. “Making clothes for a man can be… almost magic… it can bind him to you. A woman’s thoughts and the words she speaks while she is making the clothes will influence the wearer. It is a very powerful gift.”

This is an exciting and powerful debut novel and I look forward to reading the continuation of Selia, Alrik and Ulfrik’s story in the next two books – A FLAME PUT OUT (late 2014) and OATH BREAKER (2015).


REVIEW RATING:   4.5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read May 2014

My thanks to Erin S. Riley for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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(Mad Passions, #3)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor……

Lady Margaret Cassidy left a life of nobility behind in Ireland, forsaking her grieving homeland to aid war-ravaged men in England. Still, she never expected a cruel turn of fate to lock her into an unwanted betrothal with one of her English patients—much less one as broken and dangerous as Viscount Powers.

Wrecked by his tragic past, Powers’ opiate-addled sanity hangs precariously in the balance, leaving him poised to destroy anyone who dares to utter the names of the wife and child he still so deeply mourns. So when he is forced to marry Margaret in exchange for freedom, he is shocked by the desire to earn her trust, her body, and—most alarming of all—her heart….

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**5 Dark, Compelling Stars**

Each time I read a Maire Claremont book, I find myself totally immersed in the compelling world she creates and her fascinating, flawed characters.

How I imagine James…

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“You’ve forsaken yourself and the man I know you to be.”

In Lady in Red, James was a secondary character just begging to have his own story. He was crude, dripped sarcasm and was addicted to opium. I knew his story was going to be an emotionally powerful one and I wasn’t disappointed.

Ms Claremont writes with such depth that I shared all James’s emotions as if they were my own. I felt his gut-wrenching pain at the loss of his wife and daughter…

His heart split, and grief spilled from him in wave after unrelenting, punishing wave.

and experienced the harrowing effects of his drug addiction…

Unease gripped his gut. He’d never experienced anything like this and was heading out into the wilds, no compass, no map, and no provisions.

At times, the realism was almost unbearable but it was what kept me turning the pages because I longed to see this broken man find himself again.

How I imagine Margaret…

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Everything about this world had taught her how important it was to take the correct path, to live rightly, and to never allow one’s self to be ruled by emotion.

James needs a special kind of heroine and Margaret is just what he needs… calm, unafraid and determined.

That careful gaze probed him without mercy . Pushing against his barriers, determined to breach him.

Margaret has had her share of pain as she watched the suffering caused by the famine in Ireland and the devastating emotional affect it had on her parents and her brother. She has built a thick armour around her heart because the only way to help those who need her, is to remain emotionally detached.

It was such a heart-rending, poignant, dramatic and passionate journey for these two, but ultimately seeing James finally emerging from the darkness and learning how to love again and Margaret opening her heart to him was so rewarding.

That oh so glorious smile of hers lit up the ballroom in a way that candles simply could not. It lit up his soul.

I didn’t know what to think about the Earl of Carlyle, James’s father. At first, it seemed that the only reason he wanted Margaret to help James might be because he was the Earl’s only son and heir and the line was in danger of dying out. It soon became clear that he genuinely loved James and would do anything to help him. There had been discord between them over the years because of the tragic events of the past but it was wonderful to see them finally reconciled. That scene really brought a tear to my eye.

Once again, Ms Claremont pushes the boundaries of traditional historical romance with this compelling and intensely emotional story. A must read!

REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read April 2014

The Mad Passions series (click on the book cover for more details):

The Dark Lady (Mad Passions, #1) by Maire Claremont Lady in Red (Mad Passions, #2) by Maire Claremont A Lady Undone (Mad Passions, #2.5) by Maire Claremont The Dark Affair (Mad Passions, #3) by Maire Claremont

 

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(Mad Passions, #2)

Genre: Historical Romance (Victorian)

Cover Blurb

The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor…

Lady Mary Darrel should be the envy of London. Instead, all society believes her dead. For Mary holds a secret so dangerous, her father chose to keep her locked away…and have a grave made for her near her mother’s. Driven to the edge of desperation, Mary manages to escape the asylum, only to find that her fate yet again rests in the hands of a man…

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, longs for some way to escape the torment of his father’s crimes. In Mary’s warrior spirit and haunted gaze—which so mirrors his own—he finally sees his path to redemption. He will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even as she seeks revenge. But will the passion they discover in each other be enough to save them from their demons?

(Although this is the second book in the series, it can be read as a standalone)

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**5 Spellbinding Stars**

I was totally gripped by this intense, angsty and dramatic story.  Once again, Máire Claremont explores the darker side of Victorian London with graphic realism. 

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Mary left such a deep impression on me in The Dark Lady. She had selflessly protected her friend, Eva, from the worst of the horrors of the asylum and, when the two of them escaped, Mary’s fate was left in the balance.  I was desperate to know what happened to her.

Condemned to the asylum by her own father, Mary suffered unspeakable abuse during those three years incarcerated in that hellish place. But, somehow, she retained the strength and will to survive and make her escape, determined never to return.

Edward has demons of his own to conquer. He has never been able to escape the guilt he feels because he did nothing to save a young woman from his evil father’s clutches. He is desperately looking for some sort of purpose to his life and his greatest fear is becoming just like his father.

Sharing Edward and Mary’s story is a powerful and emotional journey.  Ms Claremont writes with such depth that I shared every moment of that journey until they finally discover that only their love can truly set them free.

Her very presence held him with a force that knocked the air out of his lungs.

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She stood in the same  spot for several moments, gasping. His very presence had changed how her body felt. She no longer felt battered or afraid. She felt strong and alive. How had he done that?

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“No matter what you do, no matter what you say, I shall always be in awe of your perfect vulnerability, your perfect imperfect soul.”

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“I am still among the ashes. I have not yet flown.”

He lowered his head toward her in careful, slow stages. “But you will.”

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Tears stung Mary’s eyes and she eased toward his naked body, burrowing close. As he curved his arm about her, tucking her to his chest, she did feel safe. Safer than she had felt in her lifetime.

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“Together then. We shall be whole.”

“Yes,” she said with an assurance it never could be gainsaid. “You are my other half as I am yours.”

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I love Edward’s friend, Viscount Powers…so sarcastic, dark and enigmatic and so full of pain. I just know his story is going to be just as compelling and I can’t wait to delve into The Dark Affair.

Ms Claremont doesn’t shy away from scenes that are often harrowing and brutal but I was riveted to the pages desperate to know what happened.

If you enjoy a dark, intense romance with an original and suspenseful plot and unforgettable characters, then you will definitely enjoy LADY IN RED.

REVIEW RATING:  5/5 Stars

SENSUALITY RATING: HOT

Read April 2014

 

The Mad Passions series (click on the book cover for more details):

The Dark Lady (Mad Passions, #1) Lady in Red (Mad Passions, #2) A Lady Undone (Mad Passions, #2.5) The Dark Affair (Mad Passions, #3)

 

 

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