Released on February 5, 2013
When a young lady freshly finished with her education standing at the brink of adulthood goes searching for the benefactor who paid for her board and tuition, she receives a shocking answer that sets her life on a new path. Seraphina has worked hard the last ten years to turn herself into a lady and hide her origins from the world of polite society under an armor made up of restraint and rules. She was always made to feel the position of just not quite being good enough to pass for a gentlewoman by everyone except her two closest friends who are aristocrats by birth. Now that their time at school is finished, Sera is determined to find out who has been her secret benefactor with dreams that it is the father who never came to claim her when her mother died. Instead of a father, Sera finds an old childhood friend and protector, Fletcher Thomas.
Fletcher began looking after Seraphina when she was six years old to his twelve. Her mother was his crime lord father’s mistress and they died together in a fire. When Fletcher inherited his father’s fortune and dark empire, his first thought was to take care of Sera and save her from the desolate life she would have as a penniless orphan. He secretly made sure she was sent to the best boarding school and that she was educated to be a lady. Fletcher made his own plans all around the idea of becoming a gentleman of legitimate business and claiming Sera as the lady wife who would help him leave his sordid life behind.
Unfortunately, he had set backs in business and is unable to claim Sera when he wants to, but suddenly there she is at his door having tracked him down through his payments to her school. Sera is all that he could hope for in her cool, calm lady ways. He can see her distaste for the home he had built and thought was decorated in the style of those of the rank he hoped to join. But Sera can save him.
Once she gets over the shock of Fletcher being her benefactor, Sera tells him that she will no longer be a charity case and wishes to earn her way. Fletcher blocks all her attempts to work genteel jobs so she comes up with a compromise. She will take on the task of improving him so that he can land the railway deal with the earl. Fletcher reluctantly agrees to this with an agenda of his own. With Sera living under his roof and setting him and his home in order, he can work on her and persuade her to marry him.
But that’s when things get interesting, suddenly somebody doesn’t want Sera there and incidents start happening that frighten her. The more dangerous event is the strong attraction Sera has for Fletcher. It scares her because it makes her lose control and losing her control is something she refuses to do even if it costs her a chance at happiness.
I really enjoyed this story from the very beginning. The strength of the story is the well written characters. Fletcher is primal and raw, but he wants to be a better man and rise above his origins. He wants Sera, his angel. Sera is also those things (well not the part about being a man) though she locks it all down tight beneath the hard won ladylike veneer and rules she bracketed around herself. Sera wants Fletcher as much as he wants her, but she is confused and scared. I love how they both grow in this story.
The story is told against a historical backdrop that is rather unique in ways. It includes the ballroom and drawing room of polite society, it includes the slums and rookeries of east end London, but what is unique is that it also includes a glimpse into the lifestyle of those in transition between the two. I thought the author did a great job making all of this feel authentic and vibrant like the characters. Because of this backdrop and the background of the main characters, the story has a darker, grittier taste to it than the average historical romance which I found a refreshing change.
All in all, it was a really good read. I recommend this historical romance to those who can appreciate a sensual and dangerous bad boy hero and a heroine that is just awakening to who she is and what she wants.