Usually, it’s the hero who can make or break a romance for me. But in this book, the heroine is the standout. Sure, I liked Jasper well enough, but Melisande stole my heart with her quiet strength and hidden love for her own husband.
If you’ve read To Taste Temptation, you may remember Jasper, Lord Vale, as the man Emmeline almost married and Melisande as her best friend. (Even if you haven’t read it, though, this works fine as a standalone.) Like all of the heroes in this series, Jasper is still recovering from the deadly attack on his soldiers while serving in the military, and he is determined to weed out the traitor who sold them out. He was not harmed physically, but he still bears the emotional scars of the attack and subsequent torture of the survivors.
As the story begins, Jasper is being jilted again, this time on the day of his wedding. He’s not too broken up about it –he hardly knew the woman– which makes it all the more tempting when Melisande approaches him with a shocking proposition. Even though he barely knows her, she asks him to marry her instead. Realizing this saves him the trouble of finding another bride, he accepts.
Melisande is nothing like she seems. She appears to be a dour wallflower, but she is sharp and smart. She simply doesn’t like to be the center of attention. So she fades into the background with people who don’t take the time to know her. What a surprise she is for her new husband! The best part, the part he is totally clueless about, is that she has been secretly in love with him for years.
I love how she confounds him. I love how she is a match for him in every way. I love that she is able to go after what she wants in the marriage bed; that she doesn’t simper. This heroine has so much backbone and self-possession, yet it never makes her bitchy or snotty.
Even though he doesn’t love Melisande –or really even know her at the beginning– Jasper does make an honest effort to be a good husband. Hoyt does a good job demonstrating his issues from the war, but it doesn’t break him. I enjoyed watching this relationship evolve between two characters who are flawed in their own ways. And I loved how Jasper kept calling Melisande his “lady wife.”
This is a really good romance. Definitely worth checking out this backlist read.
Rating: A-/ B+
Click to purchase: Amazon
To Seduce a Sinner
by Elizabeth Hoyt
Release Date: November 1, 2008