Thursday, September 23, 2010

One Unashamed Night

Living in a gray world of silhouette, Lord Taris Wellingham conceals his fading eyesight from society. He has long protected himself from any intimate relationships.

Plain twenty-eight-year-old Beatrice-Maude Bassingstoke does not expect to attract any man, especially not one as good-looking as her remote traveling companion.

Forced by a snowstorm to spend the night together, these two lonely people seek solace in each other's arms. The passion they unleash surprises them both. Then a new day dawns….

A good, unique story that I wish had been longer...

I liked this book.  It was a quick read, and one I will be honest and admit I was initially drawn to because of the  cover art, then I clicked to read the back cover blurb and was sold.  I'm a sucker for stories where our hero and heroine get stranded together... not sure why, but there it is.  But I will also admit that I'm not a huge fan of Harlequin books.  (Don't even get me started on how embarassed I feel just reading some of the titles at the store.  Secret Prince, Instant Daddy! anyone?  Do people really buy those??)  Occasionally I peruse the Harlequin Historicals to see if anything strikes my fancy and once in a while I will find a gem.  But while I found this story to be very gem-like, the writing was a tad weak for me.  I know, I know... Harlequins are quickie reads, but this book could have been SO good!  I wish the author had taken her time to make the entire story... bigger... bulkier.  I mean, it was written ok, but I wished there had been more depth and more detail.  Scenes that lasted 3 paragraphs, I wish had been entire chapters... that kind of thing.  Ok... griping done.  So, let's dive in, shall we? 

We start off with a carriage ride headed from Ipswitch to London where a broken axel in the middle of a snowstorm sends Taris and Beatrice-Maude (Bea as in Bea-utiful or Bea-witching) out in search of help.  Keeping his failing eyesight hidden from everyone except his close family, Taris needs Bea's help and soon they locate townsfolk in search of their carriage and they, in turn, point them to the closest shelter while continuing on to rescue the other carriage passengers.  It is here, in a barn, where they share One Unashamed Night.  And really, its not even a romantic interlude, but a consensual tryst between a man coming to terms with his failing sight and a widow who survived a grueling, passionless marriage.  Its purely an opportunity for these two souls to just lose themselves in the heat of passion.  One night only.

But that one night leaves Bea and Taris with mixed feelings when they are rescued the following morning.  Taris plays it cool when he leaves without looking back, but Bea takes it a bit hard when he says that she should not acknowledge knowing him should they ever meet in London.  Ouch!  But soon enough, Taris wishes he could take back those harsh words last spoken to Bea because soon their paths cross again... 

During the course of this book, Taris learns about the abusive marriage Bea had endured.  At the same time, it takes a bit for Bea to realize that Taris is actually not a drunk but, in fact, losing his sight.  Suddenly those horrific flashbacks of nursing her drunk-of-a-husband subside, opening her heart to the man she's feeling more for with each passing day.  A little nudging from his family encourages Taris to see what a gem he has found in Bea.  At the same time, his family is encouraging Bea to understand the man she is falling in love with and how best to communicate those feelings. But as much as Taris grows to care for Bea, he hates the thought of dealing her a hand that would require dependancy, much like the way her husband had depended on her at the end of his life.  Can Taris and Bea find a love that can put their pasts behind and pave a way for a happy future? 

I really enjoyed this story, but what I enjoyed most was the fact that the author did a primo job of describing Taris and what he was going through without making him sound weak.  Vulnerable, yes.  But never weak.  That is hard to do and it was accomplished perfectly.  We also see the author scoot around any appearance of Bea showing pity for Taris.  She's proud of the man he is and there was no "woe is me" which just made the story stronger.  There is a dash of intrigue that, while a bit lacking in drama, holds weight in the grand scheme of things.  For it is this mystery that eventually explains the broken axel on the coach and ultimately brings Taris to reveal his true feelings for Bea.  And publicly, no less.  

I loved Emerald (Emmie), who is married Taris' brother, Asher.  She was a lovely woman who befriended Bea right off the bat and wanted so much to see Bea and Taris get together.  There are two quotes that Emmie says to Bea near the end of the book that I just absolutely loved...

"May I offer you a piece of advice, Beatrice?  The Wellingham men are hard to catch but very easy to keep.  Once they love, they love well."
The simplicity of that statement was so genuine and spoke volumes. The other quote was:

"...Give him the same knowledge that I had to give to Ashe."
"The knowledge?"
"That he can't live without you."
Very well put!  Love it!  As an aspiring writer, I definitely learned a lot reading this book, and I certainly do not mean that as any insult to the author.  I loved her story but there is still a big part of me that wishes more had been elaborated and expanded upon.  I also think she got a little too excited using exclamation points, which was more of a distraction rather than a detriment to the story.  Taris and Bea's romance was one of the more unique stories I have read in a long time and for those who like series books, this is book 2 in the Wellingham trilogy.  Book 1 was High Seas to High Society which tells Asher and Emmie's story.  While their romance is referenced in One Unashamed Night, it does not leave you wondering too much about what you missed, so this book stands alone quite nicely.   There is also a short, but tender and sweet epilogue that wraps things up nicely but at the same time makes you wish there was more.  However Cristos (Taris' brother) is next to get his story but I don't know when, nor was a title or cover art available.  I'm hoping we'll get another update on all other characters soon!   

My rating:  7 - I really enjoyed it

The series in order, so far...

 

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