This was one of my ‘try a new to me author’ grabs and again, I got lucky with an engaging, passionate and well written story that was more than I hope for. I did manage to get a sequel that probably would have been even better if I’d gotten it in the order of the series. Oh well, now I have another one to go back for because trust me, the references to the first story makes me think that it was a delicious scream.
This story opens with Sebastian, Lord Thorne, drowning his sorrows over being the jilted party in a scandalous runaway romance involving his fiancée and his former best friend. His family did not need any new scandal to ostracize it more and in fact, that was the sole reason he was set on marrying in the first place. His father was thought to be mad because he heard voices and spoke to imaginary people even though it was just the fact that a military campaign in Ireland and its atrocities broke him and his sister was jilted at the altar so she is ruined because people are convinced that there was something wrong with her to cause her groom to run. Society loves its scandals and his family has provided them with plenty.
Unfortunately, his luck continues toward the bad. He stumbles out of the seedy pub in Whitechapel and he encounters thieves. He is robbed, beaten and left for dead, but that is when his luck changes because he is saved by an angel. Not a real angel, but a mystery woman who rescues him and leaves him at his home. His befuddled, pain-ridden state doesn’t allow him to figure out who she was until much later. But when he does, he proposes a scheme that will benefit both of them and it doesn’t hurt that his plan gives him more time to entice his angel to his bed.
Helena, the newly widowed Lady Prestwick, is finally able to leave her husband’s Scotland manor where he has been keeping her tucked away and return to London. She left London many years before as a frightened, uneducated, low class girl and returns as a wealthy, titled, finished lady. No one must know her origins, but it is precisely her origins that bring her back. Before the public’s eye, she is just another lady enjoying London upper society and the Season, but in secret, she is hunting down her missing sisters who she had to leave behind with their worthless father when Lord Prestwick bought her in a card game. Helena is determined to find them all and take them back to Scotland with her where she can give them a good life. She has a lead on the oldest of the younger girls and it leads her to hunt for her sister in the brothels of the East End with her faithful steward going where she can’t. The hunt keeps coming up empty and she despairs, but then the man she rescued from the gutter, the infamous rogue, Lord Thorne, enters the fray. Helena has sworn off men after the damage her father and husband did to her, but the wily, handsome Sebastian is a strong temptation and it doesn’t hurt that they can enter into an agreement to help each other. Proximity to Sebastian shows her that all men are not the same, but her fears will not allow her to agree to more than a dalliance which is all a rogue like Sebastian would want too, right?
When I jumped into this one, I figured out quickly that it was a continuation of what had come before and I accepted that since it was my own fault for picking up the book out of order. It took me some time to get oriented, but in the meantime, the story line hooked me right away. There was a lot going on in this one that wasn’t just about the main characters. It was a longer story as a result, but not boring. Sebastian’s sister got a side story, there was a reunion with the main characters from the previous story, and then the line with Helena and her sisters too.
Sebastian was a rascal of sorts, but there was no real harm in him. His life dealt him a tough hand and he was in a bit of a funk, but the arrival of Helena perked him right up. I enjoyed watching Helena’s presence in his life change him and cause him to really look hard at his own life. He still was a fun, spontaneous and passionate man, but she tempered him to want something lasting for once.
Speaking of a tough hand, Helena and her sisters were the ones that really had it tough. As her backstory was unveiled, her reticence, fears, and even some of her leaping to conclusions made a lot of sense. Now not to say, that all of her hang-ups were fine. I felt a bit sorry for Sebastian the way she totally judged him wrongly at first and even well into their friendship. She tended to do that with men in general as evidenced by her leap at St. Ambrose as a villain. She was totally the bossy oldest sister too and it was interesting to watch as she interacted with her sisters to see her realize that they had grown up too and she wasn’t needed to mother all of them anymore. I will admit that her ongoing refusal to acknowledge her and Sebastian’s feelings and give them a chance in the latter fourth of the book did have me skimming a bit because I got tired of the denial, but for the most part I had a good time with these two lovers.
Putting it all together, this was light on the history, but strong on the story and romance. The characters were flawed, but ones that were not hard to root for and like. And it was also a nice story packed full of things that made it so much more than just a romance. Historical Romance lovers who enjoy some spice should try this one.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this one in exchange for my honest review thoughts.
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