Returning home to Cornwall after an unspeakable tragedy, Sir Gideon Trevithick comes upon a defiant beauty in danger and vows to protect her whatever the cost. He's dismayed to discover that she's none other than Lady Charis Weston, England's wealthiest heiress—and that the only way to save her from the violent stepbrothers determined to steal her fortune is to wed her himself! Now Gideon must hide the dark secrets of his life from the bride he desires more with every heartbeat.
She promised to show him how to love—and desire—again . . .
Charis has heard all about Gideon, the dangerously handsome hero with the mysterious past. She's grateful for his help but utterly unwilling to endure a marriage of convenience—especially to a man whose touch leaves her breathless. Desperate to drive him mad with passion, she would do anything to make Gideon lose control—and fall captive to irresistible, undeniable sin.
Dark romance, tortured hero, excellent original story
While I typically prefer romances to be light, charming and witty, I do occasionally like a good dark romance. Dark memories, tragic pasts and a tortured soul make up this excellent, original story from Anna Campbell.
When Gideon first finds Charis, she has been bruised and beaten by her two stepbrothers who are eager to wed her off in an arrangement to gain her fortune. Charis reluctantly accepts help and eventually sanctuary from Gideon, but with the distance he keeps from her... does it enforce the fact that he is just trying to help her? As Charis' trust builds, so does her gratitude, and her hero worship for Gideon sends him into panic-mode. But as the plot thickens, it becomes clear to Gideon that the best protection he can offer Charis is his name, so they wed and now things get more interesting. Gideon wants a marriage in name only, believing that his growing desire for Charis will forever be blocked by his afflictions from torture in India. But Charis is a strong woman who must show him that there is life after tragedy.
Gideon's situation is very unique, compelling and wonderfully written. I did, however, get a little frustrated with his selfless attitude to the point where it just made him sound selfish. And yet, as much as Gideon wanted Charis to stay in his life, he was so determined to push her away. If you want something or someone badly enough, don't you at least try? And while anyone in Charis' situation would show gratitude (verbally) to their rescuer, Gideon refused to accept it on every occasion. It really got annoying that he couldn't just say "you're welcome" and move on. Instead, his rejection fueled biting words towards Charis in an effort to push her away even more. Charis eventually helps break down the granite walls surrounding Gideon's heart but the ultimate test for Gideon comes when Charis' stepbrothers turn the tables, leaving Charis to be Gideon's only hope for rescue.
The story wraps up neatly... almost too neatly, really, complete with a big red bow. And the rushed ending probably could have been eased a bit with a nice epilogue. Akash was a mysterious character, even more so when he disappeared for half the book. And aside from the use of a few carriages and specific clothing items, there was little reference to the actual time (era) of this story. Personally, I enjoy a bit more detail in that regard.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Ms. Campbell has a knack for beautifully creating tortured heroes and heroines and her stories are original and so different than typical regencies/historical romance. While I still think my personal favorite is Tempt the Devil, I will not hesitate one moment to pick up her next release My Reckless Surrender in May.
My rating: 7 – I really enjoyed it