Thursday, May 5, 2011

BOOk REVIEW: Midnight's Wild Passion By Anna Campbell


London’s most notorious seducer, Nicholas Challoner lives solely for revenge… The dashing, licentious Marquess of Ranelaw can never forgive Godfrey Demarest for ruining his sister—now the time has come to repay the villain in the same coin. But one formidably intriguing impediment stands in the way of Nicholas’s vengeance: Miss Antonia Smith, companion to his foe’s unsuspecting daughter.

Having herself been deceived and disgraced by a rogue—banished by her privileged family as a result and forced to live a lie—Antonia vows to protect her charge from the same cruel fate. She recognizes Ranelaw for the shameless blackguard he is, and will devote every ounce of her intelligence and resolve to thwarting him Yet Antonia has always had a fatal weakness for rakes…

Anna Campbell offers us again, a lush, intimate, seductive read. I am in awe of they way she keeps the focus tight on the hero and heroine, almost achingly so. Nothing else really exists in this world, but the two main characters.

Nicholas Challoner, Marquess of Ranelaw is another flawed, tortured hero that Anna does very well indeed. A blond Adonis, he strides into ballrooms, breaking hearts in his wake, but this particular night, he has a certain goal in mind, revenge. His beloved half-sister was ruined by Godfrey Demarest, so Nicholas is determined to ruin the innocent young daughter of Demarest. However, Cassandra is guarded most virulently by her companion, Miss Antonia Smith. Ranelaw is an unabashed rake, who revels in his dissolute reputation.

What surprises Ranelaw, is this homely miss stands up to him, defiant, her eyes snapping with passion. And he finds himself reacting, in the most basest way. On closer observation, Miss Smith is not as homely or as old as Ranelaw originally thought, stoking his interest even more, diverting him from his goal of ruination.

What can I say about Ranelaw? While he belongs in the annals of the Anna Campbell 'Tortured Hero' Hall of fame, he isn't so much as tortured as extremely...lonely. Heartbreakingly so. And all it took was a tender kiss by the river with Antonia to open the floodgates of emotion and longing, as much as he tries to deny it. Ranelaw is a passionate man, raw and rapscallion in his thoughts, imaging all the debauched acts he will partake with the luscious Antonia. Passion is the theme of this book, and it practically brings Ranelaw to his knees, so in this way, he really is tortured.

And Antonia cannot deny the longing she feels for this dissipated rake. For 10 years she has acted as companion to her cousin, hiding her shameful past, a past that threatens to reemerge.

As with Anna's other books, I prefer her heroes over the heroines. Antonia comes across at times as unsympathetic, but I am sure that is because of her past with another rake, and knowing Ranelaw has her innocent cousin in his sights, though unaware of the reason. I did not dislike Antonia, in fact, I came to feel sympathy for her, she is damaged herself inside.

Their first heated encounter at midnight in a darkened greenhouse sizzles and crackles as do all Anna's love scenes. So intimate the encounter, you feel you are watching them through the windows, such is Anna's gift for putting the reader right into the heart of the couple's journey.

But it is Ranelaw's journey that is the most compelling and touching. To see this cold rake succumb to tenderness and love, and to have romantic notions flood him (he compares one wild passionate night with Antonia as wandering among the stars)
Frankly, Antonia is a trial. A frustrating woman on a lot of levels. How she could just leave Ranelaw after such a night of 'wild passion' is jaw dropping. They would have to peel me off the man with pliers. But leave, she does. And Ranelaw's reaction is heartbreaking.
In Antonia's mind, once a rake, always a rake, and the past has proven that point, as the rake that caused her to go into hiding ten years before, reemerges at last.

Tossed aside, Ranelaw returns to his original plan of ruining Cassandra Demarest, and the consequences of that open a chasm between Ranelaw and Antonia in a most dramatic fashion. A near fatal incident cannot have the couple deny their feelings any longer. It is quite the emotional journey the pair take, fraught with passion, and more. And you will be with them all the way.

Intimate, sensual story with a hero that will take your breath away. How can Antonia deny such a man? Ultimately,she can't, and neither will you.

4 out of 4 stars

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