I loved this book. Simple. Straightforward. At least my feelings are simple and straightforward. The book itself offers more complexity than most regency romances and one of the deeper—ruthlessly honest and brutal—emotional conflicts than I’ve found in any genre.
It was a slow start for me however because I was feeling noncommittal when I started it. Then, I found myself less than certain about the hero until Carlyle carefully revealed him as a man worthy of her heroine. Once engaged, I nearly put the book down in fear that the H and H would be unreasonably, stupidly separated until much later in the story. I’m relieved to report that that particular peeve never materialized. Our hero claims his bride in short order and the remaining, better part of the book is devoted to tying its reader’s emotions in knots (I mean tying the H and H into emotional knots) until the explosive, coming undone scenes that wrap up the HEA.
The mystery and suspense all stem from the emotional conflict and Carlyle does not litter it with distractions. The characters propel the telling of this story; and Carlyle gives us (many) characters that are complex in nature—riddled with imperfections and utterly charming.
I’ve added her to my hurry-up-and-read-her-backlist list—which should put me flush with her new releases along about 2008 (given my similar commitment to read every Kleypas and Laurens book; and to try Julia Quinn).
Frederica d'Avillez is sure she will never marry. She's had a disastrous London season, and now her longtime beau has thrown her over for a more eligible miss. But if Freddie can't have a husband, she's hell-bent on experiencing at least one night of unforgettable passion. Where better than in the arms of the dashing rogue Bentley "Hell-Bent" Rutledge? So what if he's a rake, scoundrel, and all-round devil?
Scandal trails in Bentley's wake and fair maidens usually steer well clear of him -- and vice versa. But when the opportunity presents itself, Bentley can't resist Freddie's exotic beauty. When their wild, reckless passion has dire consequences, Bentley is forced to choose between honor and freedom. And Freddie soon realizes that Bentley's devil-may-care façade is just that -- for she has unwittingly unleashed his dark secrets...and secret desires.