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Posts Tagged ‘Virginia Heath’

Her Enemy at the Altar

Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)

Cover Blurb:

An unexpected end to the Wincanton–Stuart feud…?

Scandal broke last night when Lady Constance Stuart was discovered in the arms of Aaron Wincanton, the son of her family’s greatest enemy! But now we can reveal an even more shocking development. Our sources say a special license was obtained and the two were married before sunrise!

It’s been confirmed that Aaron has stolen his new bride away to the country to begin their unexpected marriage. We’ll be watching closely to see exactly what happens when a gentleman invites his enemy into his bed…

♥♥♥♥♥♥

I really enjoyed this enemies-to-lovers story by new-to-me author, Virginia Heath. It combines an engaging and well-written story, interesting characters and an emotionally satisfying romance.

The Stuarts and Wincantons have been mortal enemies for the past three hundred years and Lady Constance (Connie) Stuart has every reason to loathe Aaron Wincanton with a vengeance. After he scathingly nicknamed her Ginger Amazonian during her come out six years ago, Connie endured hurtful and humiliating jokes about her unruly red hair, tall, unimpressive figure and long legs. In her second year, she decided that, if she is going to be compared to a mythical warrior, she will act like one. A haughty air and a razor-sharp tongue become her chosen weapons of defence; even her dresses are a statement of defiance.

They were no longer merely gowns; now each dress was a statement of defiance. She might well be an ugly wallflower, but that did not mean that she had to be a shrinking violet.

Having always been self-conscious of the bump on my nose, I found it was easy to relate to Connie and sympathise with her insecurities and understand how much she was hurt and humiliated by the constant cruel barbs. I so admired her courage in facing her tormentors with defiance.

Connie is now engaged to the Marquis of Deal and, although it is an arranged marriage, she hopes to find a measure of happiness, until she discovers his true motives. Feeling hurt and dejected, she finds comfort in the unlikely arms of Aaron Wincanton but, when they are caught in a compromising situation, Connie finds herself married to her sworn enemy.

To everyone, Aaron appears a charming, flirtatious rogue, but this is a mask he wears because the war had left an indelible mark on him. He had seen too much death to remain the carefree young man he once was.

The new Aaron Wincanton found no joy in balls or parties, nor did he find it in intimate gatherings or quiet solitary contemplation either. He did not deserve to feel joy any more. Most of the time he felt burdened. The rest of the time, if he was lucky, he just felt numb.

He has personal demons to fight, ones that conjure up terrifying, tortuous nightmares, night and day, convincing him that he is slowly going mad. He is a desperate to find peace but unable to, believing himself unworthy of love or forgiveness.

Aaron is shocked to find that the Wincanton estate has been brought to the brink of bankruptcy by his father’s mismanagement. All his father’s decisions have been motivated by one thing only – revenge against the Stuarts – without thought for the consequences. All Aaron wants to do is put an end to the pointless and costly feud and restore the family fortunes by marrying a wealthy heiress. But his plans go awry when he is caught in a compromising situation with Lady Constance Wincanton and his strong sense of honour compels him to marry her.

Everything about this marriage was wrong. At best they were strangers, at worst sworn enemies.

I appreciated how Ms. Heath takes the time to build the romantic relationship between Connie and Aaron. At first, there are a lot of angry words spoken but gradually, they begin to discover more about each other

Connie has always thought of Aaron as confident and charming- as though he tiptoed through life largely unscathed – but realises that he has hidden depths and feels things as deeply as she does. While Connie was feeling sorry for herself, she never realised the sacrifices Aaron made by marrying her.

While society regards Connie as a social oddity, Aaron sees her as striking, intelligent and witty and finds he enjoys her company. Recognising that she has many conflicting and contrasting elements to her personality, I like how Aaron compares her to a rainbow…

At one end of the spectrum she was indomitable, sharp-tongued and aloof. He had been on the receiving end of that with alarming frequency and they had only been together for such a short time. But then she was kind-hearted. Finally, buried beneath all of that, was a seam of vulnerability that she worked hard to hide—but he knew that it was there.

Connie’s kindness, gentleness and compassion shines through in her care for Aaron’s dying father, and her desire to do everything she can to comfort Aaron and convince him that he has no reason to feel any guilt for his actions during the war.

I adore Aaron for realising the extent of Connie’s grief and sadness at the loss of her family and for arranging a secret meeting with her mother and brother.

His throat felt tight with emotion. For the first time he truly saw all of her grief and sadness at the loss of her family until she had realised that they had come to see her, then the relief and desperation on her lovely face had moved him and he was glad that he had been able to do this one tiny thing for her.

Whether it is standing up to Aaron’s irascible father or Aaron himself, Connie is definitely a force to be reckoned with!

“Perhaps I did not make myself clear. When I said that I wanted to help I meant that I am going to help you, whether you like it or not. I am not some ornamental woman and I will not let you treat me like one.”

The sexual tension builds up deliciously so that their falling in love feels genuine and when they finally make love, it just seems right. Ms. Heath writes such lovely, romantic scenes and I love this one where just a touch of a hand conveys so much. Sometimes, I find it far more romantic than an overtly explicit scene.

When his eyes slowly drifted down to her lips and lingered there, Connie’s heart began to race. His palm was still cupping her cheek, making her skin prickle with an awareness that was both quite alien and intoxicating at the same time.

I also like how Ms Heath includes lovely touches of humour, and this is one of my favourites because it conjured up such a comical picture in my mind!

The door edged open slowly to reveal him standing there with the handkerchief of surrender in one hand while the other hand held a bucket over his head like a helmet. He surveyed the room with exaggerated wariness before he gingerly stepped inside, still holding his bucket armour about his head and looking, much to her utter consternation, quite delightful. ‘I come in peace, Connie. Put down your weapons.’

The Earl of Redbridge, Connie’s father, is a truly despicable man.  Not only does he threaten to put Connie and her mother out on the streets if she (Connie) refuses to marry Aaron, but he selfishly pursues his feud with Aaron’s father to the detriment of his daughter’s happiness.  A thoroughly dislikeable character whom I’m pleased to say gets everything he deserves.

I was disappointed in the lack of an Epilogue because I love seeing the hero and heroine enjoying their well-deserved Happy Ever After.

MY VERDICT: This was a lovely introduction to Ms. Heath’s books and I will definitely be reading more.


REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS

SENSUALITY RATING: WARM

 

 

**I received a complimentary copy from the author in return for an honest review**

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Virginia Heath Interview - author picture

I’m delighted to welcome Harlequin Historical Author VIRGINIA HEATH to Rakes and Rascals today for an exclusive interview.

Thank you for inviting me. I’ve been reading this blog for years, seeing all those big names in historical romance and being awed by them, so being asked to be on it is very exciting. So much so I might need to lie down…

~~~~~~~~


R&R:
Could you tell us where you were born and what it was like growing up there?

Virginia:
I was born just outside of London in a place called Hayes. I suppose it’s biggest claim to fame is it is right next to Heathrow Airport, so I grew up directly under one of the busiest flight paths in the world. Every morning at 11am, the ground would vibrate as Concorde took off. I know this was a great source of consternation for the locals, but I used to imagine it was an earthquake or a space ship coming to land. Even then I had a vivid imagination. Hayes was a nice place to grow up. Just around the corner from me was a quiet road called Pump Lane with the smoothest pavement you’ve ever seen. I have happy memories of roller-skating up and down that road. I probably wasted a quarter of my childhood doing that while making up stories in my head. It’s funny what you remember.

 

R&R:
How would you describe yourself – temperamental or easy-going?

Virginia:
Most of the time, I’m very easy going. I have a very long fuse and years of teaching teenagers has made it even longer. But when my temper goes, it goes!


R&R:
When it comes to food do you like sweet or savoury or both?

Virginia:
When I was younger, I used to have an enormous sweet tooth but as I’ve got older I prefer savoury. I’m a spice fiend. Curry, chillies, anything with a bit of a kick and I’m in food Heaven. I’ve never grown out of my love of cake though. Can’t beat a nice slice of cake and a cup of tea.

 

R&R:
What is your most treasured possession?

Virginia:
That’s a really difficult question because the older I’ve got, the more I see possessions as simply stuff because people and memories matter more. However, I have always been a bit of a history nerd, and love nothing more than touching things from the past. Simple stuff, like coins or broaches, things people used in their day to day lives. I have a Queen Elizabeth penny, a roman broach, a Civil War musket ball- nothing of huge monetary value but things which evoke a sense of the past and get me wondering about the people who used them. I suppose my most treasured piece of the past is my mammoth’s tooth. It’s only half of a back molar, but the fact it once lived inside the mouth of an animal roaming Britain 20,000 years ago makes it really special. I often ponder that mammoth and the world he lived in.

Virginia Heath Interview -mammoth tooth pg


R&R:
If you could afford a second home anywhere in the world where would you choose and why?

Virginia:
The Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean. I love the Caribbean in general, but Turks and Caicos are the most beautiful, so green and unspoiled, and Grace Bay is far and away the best beach in the world. The sand is like golden talcum powder and the sea is so clear you can see everything. My husband and I got married there, and he lost his wedding ring in the water. We hunted around for half an hour searching for it frantically then saw it glinting in the sun on the sea bed ten feet below. Fortunately, my daughter swims like a dolphin and was able to dive down and fetch it. I can definitely see myself staring out onto that beautiful beach while tapping away on my keyboard.

Virginia Heath Interview - Me on Grace Bay beachVirginia Heath Interview -Grace Bay in the Turks and Caicos Islands

 

R&R:
Finally, what has been your most embarrassing moment?

Virginia:
Oh dear, so many I’m not sure which to choose. However, this one still makes me cringe a quarter of a century on so…

In my early twenties I used to work for the BBC at the iconic Television Centre in London. It was a maze of a building, shaped like a donut, and I was forever getting lost. It was also a place where you regularly saw very famous celebrities, and it was not the done thing to acknowledge they were famous or approach them. As BBC staff, we were expected to maintain our professionalism at all times, and as I’m not usually a fan girl type, I found this remarkably easy. One day I had just done a huge pile of photocopying and was carrying it back to my office when Mel Gibson suddenly appeared around the corner. It was at the time of the Lethal Weapon films when he was a HUGE star and I was hopelessly in love with him. I was so surprised I squeaked then dropped all the paper all over the floor and immediately blushed to the roots of my hair at having been so stupidly and obviously overwhelmed.

I tried to style it out, by pretending I hadn’t seen him, being irritated at my own clumsiness, and went about gathering them up, but he came up alongside me and said, “Let me help you with that.” Of course, I said no, resolutely stared at the papers and wished the floor would open up, but Mel bent down and helped me anyway. And boy did he smell good. Being so close to the man of my dreams made me a bit wobbly- and I was definitely having a bit of a swoon although desperately trying to appear unaffected.

After the last piece of paper was back in my arms, I had to look at him to say thank you and he was grinning smugly from ear to ear. He knew I’d dropped them because of him. And he winked at me! I had no words. Nothing. So I just scurried away like an idiot with my face on fire. I still feel queasy at the complete and utter humiliation.

~~~~~~~

 

Thank you for taking time out to be here today and share these interesting facts about yourself, Virginia.

It was a pleasure, aside from recalling my Mortifying Mel Moment. I’m sat here cringing now…

 

If you would like to find out more about Virginia and her books, here are the links:

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter

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