HQN BOOKS By Brenda Joyce
Feb 2010 384 pages
BLURB ON BACK OF BOOK:
With her mother's passing, Alexandra Bolton gave up on love to take care of her family. Now, with the Bolton name in disgrace due to her father's profligate ways, marrying an elderly squire might be the only way to save her family from absolute ruin. But when she meets the infamous Duke of Clarewood, old dreams—and old passions—are awakened as never before. Yet she cannot accept his shocking proposition!
He is the wealthiest, most powerful peer in the realm, and having witnessed the cold horror of marriage as a child, he has vowed never to wed. But Alexandra Bolton inflames him as no woman has ever done, and she also serves him his first rejection! Now Clarewood—who always gets what he wants—will choose which rules to play by. But when passion finally brings them together, a terrible secret threatens to tear them apart….
Some mixed reviews for this book, some found the heroine weak and twitchy, some found the hero overbearing and controlling. As for myself? I think it made this a fascinating read. The characters were both seriously flawed. But there were enough redeeming features between the two of them to keep me riveted and reading.
I have not read any of the other De Warenne novels, of which this is part of.
I will start with the hero, Stephen Mowbray, the Duke of Clarewood. He is a man deeply shaped by his horrible childhood, and has vowed never to marry or tangle himself in any relationship, that does not preclude however, his rakish, womanizing ways. He is quite a specimen, breathtaking in fact to look at, so when in walks into the ballroom all eyes are drawn to him, but none more so that Alexandra Bolton.
The heroine is one of those selfless souls, who after her mother's death, cares for her younger sisters and drunken gambler of a father, who has sunk them into such dire poverty, Alex must marry some older squire at her father's insistence to refresh the family coffers. She already sacrificed her happiness years before when her mother died, now it seems she must do it again.
Stephen steps forward to assist Alex during a swoon moment at the ball and the attraction between them is immediate and passionate. And impossible. Their relationship hits a lot of pot holes on the road to their HEA, and at times, Stephen was so infuriatingly stubborn and haughty I wanted to scream. But I like Brenda Joyce got that reaction out of me, I could not put the book down.
A secondary plot with Stephen's widowed mother and her passionate middle aged romance with a visiting California rancher was just wonderful. Can I say YAY!! for middle aged romance, God, I wish there were more. A person does not dry up and lose desire after age 40. How refreshing to read a mature love affair.
There were some real bashing reviews of this book, mostly about the 'weakness' of the heroine. Actually, I found she grew through the book, to such a point that when her father threw her out, she refused help and stood on her own two feet, getting her own room, and living on her sewing.
Alex was more in tune with the era than some of the heroines I read in Regencies. Sometimes those headstrong, outspoken misses get on my nerves.
And as infuriating and overbearing as Stephen could be, there were reasons, and I found myself really cheering for this flawed, damaged couple.
Various members of the De Warenne family make appearances throughout the book, they seemed interesting. Interesting enough I will keep an eye for any other de Warenne books, because, Brenda Joyce is not writing them in any order, which I found different. She says "I follow my muse" Good for her.
I recommend this very much, Highly readable, interesting characters with astonishing depth.
3 and 1/2 out of 4 stars
Kover Kudos: A harmless enough cover, love the yellow colors, and the manor in the corner. Again, no eyes. Yeesh
2 out of 4 stars for the cover