by Liz Carlyle
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Source: sent by publisher and publicist
My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Summary from goodreads.com:
Beneath the elegant facade of Victorian high society, the mysterious men of the St. James Society play only by rules of danger and desire.
Rance Welham, the Earl of Lazonby, has survived scandal and disgrace, even evading the Queen's justice at the end of a hangman's rope. Now he's about to gamble everything on something far more dangerous--desire.
An exotic and elegant beauty, Lady Anisha Stafford fled her native India to seek refuge within London's secretive St. James Society. But accepting protection from someone called a cold-hearted killer is a double-edged sword . . . especially when he's the most intriguing man Anisha has ever laid eyes upon.
In a world where treachery abounds, no one can be trusted--and no true passion can be denied. Together, these two tempestuous souls will risk their lives for a love that could redeem them . . . or destroy everything they hold dear.
While I had a difficult time getting into this book at first, I ended up really enjoying the romance by the middle and end of the book. At the beginning of the book, a lot of the story revolved around the mystery instead of the development of the relationship between the two leads. Once the plot focused on the romance, I really loved their story.
Anisha and Rance had a fiery relationship, mostly based on a friendship. I really liked this angle, they bickered so much but always with a backbone of respecting each other, never those horrible, nasty fights you sometimes see played off as 'romance.' They had some fun bantering, and their favorite nickname for each other was "old thing", not something I'd like to be called by my love interest, but it worked here, and showed how they really were old friends.
This book is part of a series, and I hadn't read the previous books. While this one reads perfectly well as a standalone novel, I did feel like I was missing out on the overall picture. Sometimes all the characters involved in the mystery, as well as the main conflict itself, became a bit overwhelming and confusing.
I would have loved to see more family members and friends being the secondary characters instead of players in an overall mystery scheme. Anisha's brother, the character who ties Anisha to Rance in the first place, is barely seen, as are her children. Anisha's two sons seemed like an afterthought, and at one point near the middle of the story when their names were mentioned, I had no idea who they were. After that point, Anisha actually interacted with them during a few scenes, but they still seemed to be just "there" not really adding anything to the story.
Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 3/5
Bottom Line: Once I got into the book, I loved the two leads and their romance! I just would have preferred the backdrop to be less mystery-oriented.
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