CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND DESIRE…
Sophie, the Duchess of Calton, has finally moved on. After seven years mourning the loss of her husband, Garrett, at Waterloo, she has married his best friend and heir, Tristan. Sophie gives herself to him body and soul…until the day Garrett returns from the Continent, demanding his title, his lands—and his wife.
TORN BETWEEN TWO HUSBANDS…
Now Sophie must choose between her first love and her new love, knowing that no matter what, her choice will destroy one of the men she adores. Will it be Garrett, her childhood sweetheart, whose loss nearly destroyed her once already? Or will it be Tristan, beloved friend turned lover, who supported her through the last, dark years and introduced her to a passion she had never known? As her two husbands battle for her heart, Sophie finds herself immersed in a dangerous game—where the stakes are not only love…but life and death.
I posted about how much I loved this book over at Let's Gab. And yes indeedy, I surely did. Many have said that The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie is their favorite book of the year, and I would argue that this book is better - for me anyway. I think it's tighter and more gripping. Normally, love triangles aren't really my thing. I like to see a book evolve and grow around the hero and heroine's love for one another. Here, we have Sophie, Tristan, and Garrett, all of whom already share a love together. Combine that with Tristan and Garrett being best friends, cousins, and Tristan being Garrett's heir, and it's even more intimate.
This book has been reviewed to death, so I'll just get straight to what I liked and what I didn't.
First, I really liked that Haymore was willing, in a "traditional" regency, to venture into the forbidden. Sophie loves these two men if not equally, then both very strongly, and has sex with them both willingly. Not at the same time, and she is not switching from one to the other on a nightly basis - I need to make that point... Anyway, I also liked that she fantasized about having them both together - very graphically, I might add - and realized that it was her fantasy, that it could never come to fruition, given both the personalities of the men and her position in life as a duchess.
I liked Garrett's flashbacks at first - felt they were likely appropriate for a man who battled and was injured at Waterloo. Haymore didn't shy away from the stress and PTSD that men suffer after such a horrific battle (Vietnam anyone?). I liked that as the flashbacks and hallucinations became more vivid, intense, and frequent, both Sophie and Tristan refused to believe that they were caused by madness. That endeared Tristan to me in a way that I wouldn't have felt had he used it to win Sophie away from Garrett. Tristan truly loved Garrett, and when push came to shove, although he was angry and hurt, Garrett also truly loved Tristan.
I liked that Sophie acknowledged her growth and the difference in her relationships with the two men, while noting the strengths in each of them as well. She didn't waffle between them because she was indecisive or tentative; she truly loved both men. And while she knew that she wanted them both, she also knew that she would have to choose. She didn't want to hurt anyone, and truly didn't know with whom she would stay.
I liked Haymore's writing voice. The prose was appropriate for the time period, and the sex scenes were graphic but not vulgar. Characterization was spot on, although I felt it was strongest for Garrett when we learned of him through Sophie and Tristan's memories, simply because he was so caught up in either anger or hallucination for much of the book that we really don't get a real glimpse of the person he has become over the last 8 years except in small bits and pieces. There are some sections where he ruminates in some confusion on how his life was the last several years compared to how he thinks he is expected to behave. These gave me tremendous insight into the man that Garrett likely was, and the man that he had become. I think otherwise, there would be no question for readers as to whom they want Sophie to end up with, nor would there be for Sophie either.
What I didn't like as much was the emphasis placed on the villain and the set-up for the ending of the book. Although I realize now that it sets up the next book (the "loser's" story), I felt that it took a bit away from the focus on the intensity of the relationships at hand. Perhaps Haymore was after a little relief from that intensity, but the emotionality of the book was broken for me in those few moments. They seemed too cliched for what is otherwise a unique, gripping, emotional, intense love story.
The end... I thought I could guess who Sophie would choose, but I was always left feeling some doubt. What if she didn't choose who I thought she should end up with? In the end, she did choose the man I wanted, but I was, indeed, left with a feeling of sadness and loss for the one left out, and praying that in the next book that they can all reconcile and become the best of friends once more. (They reconciled one on one, but not all together, and I felt that loss keenly.)
Needless to say, I'm looking forward to A Touch of Scandal - the next book from Haymore, and the story of the man not chosen. It's not due out until early 2010. For those feeling withdrawal, Haymore also writes as Dawn Halliday, and has 2 Highlander books book due out - one in August and an anthology coming out in November.
Buy A Hint of Wicked here. Read about Dawn Halliday's upcoming books here.