Beneath that puritanical dress she was quite beautiful
Viscount Gil Morton had never seduced a woman before but, as the only way to avenge himself on her deceitful brother, he was prepared to disgrace the buttoned-up Deborah Meltham.
He was planning nothing more than to shame her, but not beyond repair. Gil would ensure that she came to him willingly, because if Deborah was as lonely as he thought, she should be receptive to him. Only Gil hadn’t counted on his feelings for her changing—nor her reaction when she realized he’d been deceiving her from the start…
This is my first Sarah Mallory book and it definitely won’t be the last, It’s an interesting plot and one that I really have enjoyed watching it run its course. At first glance this does come across as a revenge story that turns into a love story, but it’s so much more.
This is one of those books that grips you from page one and keeps you glued, Mallory does a very clever job at keeping your interest by only feeding you little tit-bits as you go through the book. For once with a Historical Romance it wasn’t the characters themselves that drew me in, it was the intricately, woven story that entwine all our characters together.
“I think there are things that you are not telling me “ she said slowly. “You have some deep sorrow in you. I wish you would charge it with me, Gil.”
Her perception startled him, but he recovered quickly.
“There is nothing g to tell.”
Gil is an ex-soldier who, after surviving the Peninsula Wars he returns home scarred and ever so slightly traumatized only to find out that his beloved brother and sister have been killed. Gil blames himself for not being home and stopping what happened to his brother and sister, he thinks that if he wasn’t at war it wouldn’t have happened. It’s that guilt that is pushing him forward towards vengeance.
He decides to do exactly what the other man did to his sister, so he tracks down Randolph Meltham ands sets out to seduce and then ruin her. He is willing to step out of his comfort zone and seduce a woman, for the first time.
Gil is consumed by vengeance and that has blurred the lines, he doesn’t at first see that what he is doing to Deborah is cruel. As he and Deb start seeing more and more of each other, his good soldiers conscience keeps telling him that fooling about with her is wrong. He keeps pushing away his unease as he focuses on why he is doing it, but she gets under his skin, he finds her compelling. You see that he is beginning to see her as a human. As a beautiful, intoxicating woman other than a pawn in his vengeful game of chess.
“I should go.”
She replaced her gown and as she turned from him the candle light glinted on a teardrop suspended on her lashes. Instinct triumphed over reason and he reached for her.
You can really feel Deborah’s angst over how her life has turned out, and her past trauma has shaped her life and now she has to single-handedly got to look after her selfish and spoilt brother. Her daily strife and pain is palpable.
There is a real darkness about this, the story does revolve around Gil’s vengeance – but the real darkness comes from Deborah’s brother Randolph. Now he is a rake in a completely new league. Randolph has serious issues, when we first meet him and he comes across as your typical rake always out for a good time but we soon see that he has deeper, more hidden demons.
It becomes quickly apparent that he is an alcoholic but the deadly secret that Deb is trying her hardest to hide, is his laudanum addiction. – He is very much chasing the dragon! Deb is really fighting a losing battle because Randolph is a selfish young man who doesn’t believe he has a problem, How can she help him when he doesn’t want it?
“Please, Gil, do not deny me the comfort of being with you, of loving you. Even for the short time we have left….”
The overall theme of the story, that I got is addiction and how it can destroy a family. Randolph with his alcohol and drug problems, which has driven him and Deb into borderline financial ruin but also how Gil’s life has been turned up side down by it and its association. The way Mallory has portrayed all the suffering this has caused is superb and she has got it spot on.
Mallory builds the story up so you are putting the pieces together yourself, and then when you think figured it there is an unexpected finale. There is a real gentleness about this that I really like, not wham-bam in your face. It’s a steady and emotional tale and to me a real winner.
I really liked it and one that I would recommend, Sarah Mallory is definitely an author that I am going to read more of.
This was an ARC copy via the author in exchange for an honest review.
Is out on 24th August and can be Pre-ordered now at Amazon.