Julian Darke was abandoned as a baby on the doorstep of a kind doctor. He grew up with love and care, but has been plagued by questions about his true parentage. He has a clue that he could be related to Sir Thaddeus Ormond, but the man keeps slamming the door in his face. He’s in pursuit of Ormond when he sees a woman thrown from the man’s carriage and snatched away in the night. He is horrified to see her attacker slash up her face –and nearly kill her– before Julian interferes and saves her life.
Nellie only wanted a new life when she left her drug addicted father behind. She has that now, but it’s nothing like she imagined. When she wakes up at Julian’s home, scarred and mutilated, she even wonders if perhaps she would have been better off dead. But there is something about the kind doctor and his household of misfits that keeps her from going over the edge.
An attraction blossoms between Julian and Nellie almost right away. Despite all that is going on, it’s really the bedrock of the story. Julian sees past her scars to the woman beneath, and it’s both sweet and sexy. Not only does Nelly have to deal with the fallout of her attack, though, she also has another man in her life who may or may not be behind her misery. All this makes it hard for her to surrender to her feelings for Julian, but that’s what creates the conflict they must overcome.
From the very beginning, this story reeled me in. I loved the dark, gothic atmosphere. I know Coleen Kwan is considered a steampunk author –and though there is a tiny taste of this, it’s not really much of a factor in the book. I really liked the development of the relationship between Julian and Nellie… how he wanted her, but tried to do right by her… how she struggled with her divided loyalties and honest emotions. Good stuff. It helps that the characters are well drawn and believable. Plus, they each have a subplot outside the romance, where they search for answers about their pasts.
The ending is a little abrupt, but not terribly so. I’d prefer this to a saccharine Epilogue any day of the week. And the book ends with at least one kind of big unanswered question, but I found myself kind of ok with that. Overall, I liked it quite a bit and I read it beginning to end without putting it down. If you like gothic London or a scarred hero/heroine, I’d say give it try.
*ARC Provided by author for review
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Darke Londonby Coleen KwanRelease Date: September 10, 2013Publisher: Samhain