Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Book Review: Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath

Title: Passions of a Wicked Earl
Author: Lorraine Heath
Number of pages: 384 pages
Release date: 1 November 2010
Publisher: Avon
Source: Review copy provided by publisher through NetGalley

Purchasing info: Goodreads, Amazon, Kindle Store, Book Depository

For more information visit Lorraine Heath's offical website

Grade: 4.5 stars!

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer: Known throughout London for his prowess in the bedroom, Morgan Lyons, the 8th Earl of Westcliffe, cannot forgive an unpardonable affront to his honor. Discovering his young bride in the arms of his brother was a staggering blow–so he banished the beautiful deceiver to the country and devoted himself to the pursuit of carnal pleasure.

Claire Lyons was an innocent, frightened girl on her wedding day, seeking chaste comfort from a childhood friend. Now, years later, she has blossomed magnificently and has returned to London with one goal in mind: the seduction of her notorious husband. Unskilled in the sensual arts, she burns nonetheless for the kisses too long denied her. And she has but one Season to win back the heart of the rogue she betrayed.

My thoughts: Though I love historical romances, (the cover and) the blurb gave me pause when I picked up this book: to start off a romance with the heroine being discovered on her wedding night in bed with the groom's brother didn't sound something I could just overlook in the heroine of a romance novel. But I put my faith in Lorraine Heath hoping she would honour romances and she did!

You soon learn at the very beginning, that on that ominous wedding night Claire was barely 17 and terrified of  the intimacy her wedding night would entail since she didn't know at all the man whom she married that day. Stephen, the younger brother of her husband and her childhood friend proposes a scheme for her to gain some time during which she can get to know her husband before becoming intimate with him, and that plan is the one which backfires and results in Stephen being severly beaten up by his brother and shunned by his whole family and Claire being exiled to the country for three years.

Claire is a sympathetic character because besides being beautiful and gentle (the basic requirements of romance heroines) she is compassionate, protective and very loving. She is patient and now that she spent those three years of exile understanding the consequences and ramifications of her act, she clearly sees and deeply regrets what she has caused to her husband.   

Westcliff is a jaded and deeply hurt man. He is honourable and loyal and thus the betrayal of her young bride (with his brother nonetheless!), whom he admired and loved back then, broke him forever.

The gradual development and growth of their relationship was done beautifully and realisticly. I loved that in this romance the hero and heroine did not fall in love with each other only because of the other's "penetrating gaze" or "tempting figure", but because they came to know each other gradually, saw the small but important things the other did: how selfless and deeply protective Claire was of her little sister, or how warm hearted and generous Westcliff was to Claire's sister or how deeply he loved and mourned his dog.

Lorraine Heath gave us wonderful secondary characters I cannot wait to revisit again: Westcliff's meddling and quite scandalous mother, her philosophical and kind painter lover, Ainsley the mature mediator brother. The only character who really got on my nerves was Beth, Claire's sister. She was a spoilt, selfish, immature prattling girl who threw hissy fits whenever one of her whims was not fulfilled right away. Aargh..

My only complaint was the need for that death threat at the end, was it really necessary? I believe that the story could have been resolved very well without that twist..

Because of these two small complaints I give it 4.5 stars.

Verdict: Passions of a Wicked Earl is a wonderful romance with an interesting and unique plot, complex and real characters, deep layers of emotions and sweet and hot love scenes. A fantastic read!

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 10/10
Ending: 9/10
Writing: 9/10
Cover: 8/10

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