Paperback, 336 pages
Published December 27th 2013
Trapped under the reign of a cruel keeper, Ellen Harding longs to be free. Under his oppression, her soul and conscience have died while her body lives on, fulfilling his dissolute desires. She is empty-a vessel-deaf to the voice of morality and blind to shame. When her eyes are drawn to a beautiful man for no other reason than his looks, she imagines what it would be like to escape her chains for a night by giving her body to him. Edward is restless, lonely, and a little angry with his lot in life-it is his only excuse for being drawn to another man's mistress. The woman's dark hair and pale eyes are striking, and he cannot take his gaze off her while she watches him over the top of a fan with an illicit intent in her eyes. Once he's known her, he cannot forget her, and once he's seen the evidence of her supposed benefactor's brutality, he wants to help her. But how can he when she will not run any more than she will speak of her past? When a desperate Ellen finally relents and shocks Edward from his sleep, he doesn't hesitate, he helps her flee. He just doesn't know he's running headlong into the secrets of her past.
I am so super excited about this series. I literally stumbled upon this read thanks to a tweet, and the author Jane Lark, was kind enough to provide me a copy of this book. Being a huge fan of historical romance, I was very excited to read this novel, and was just swept away by the vivid writing. I love Ms. Lark's style--beautifully descriptive, emotional and can I say, just plain delicious reading? I was immediately drawn into this richly painted story and setting. This is the kind of mixer upper I've been looking for in romance lately.
Ellen: Ellen is a wonderful character. Strong, kind, determined. I really felt how trapped she was at the beginning of the story, and immediately saw that while a part of her was broken thanks to the life she was forced to live, that she also had an inner strength and defiance that kept her whole. Thanks to Edward's unconditional love, Ellen was able to set aside all her shame and notions that she was a sinful woman, and begin to heal and fight back against the life she was forced to live. I loved that spark of defiance in her against Gainsborough, I loved that she stood up to her father, I loved that she never let Edward fight her battles for her, but with her.
Edward: I defy anyone to NOT love Edward. He never gives up on Ellen. If his love for her is love at first sight, it's tested, and in his soul Edward knows that he and Ellen belong together. He can't get away from it, and he never truly doubts Ellen. He stands by her through thick and thin, and his love is patient and enduring. He lets Ellen learn to trust him, to trust in them, and in this way he's truly Ellen's hero. I think it's safe to say he'd be any girl's hero. Edward goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure that Ellen is accepted by society again, and I love how determined and loyal he is in this. Especially since he's not a duke or rich lord, but a second son with little money or influence to throw around the ton.
Robert: Hmm. I'm hoping our next book is about Edward's brother. Something tragic has occurred in this rake's past that I want to know about. I'm very curious, and I hope Ms. Lark has a story in mind for this character. He's a bit of bad boy for sure, and although I was initially annoyed with him for being such an ass to Ellen, he won me over when he defended Ellen against Gainsborough. Hoping there's more Robert in the future.
A thoroughly satisfying read, and a truly compelling story that I could read over and over again.
The world beyond the narrow terrace faded, forgotten as he bent to kiss her in a soul deep promise of his lifetime commitment.
5 glittering stars
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