Review: The Dark Affair by Maire Claremont

dark affairReviewed by Jen

I have to say that I’ve been looking forward to Powers’ story since the end of Lady in Red.  He is a man destroyed by the deaths of his wife and child.  He is an ass.  He drowns himself in opium.  But we saw a glimpse of something more when he interacted with Mary. We saw glimpses of his vulnerability and could tell that with the right woman, he could rebuild what is broken inside himself.  Margaret is to be that woman. [Read more…]

Review: Lady in Red

lady in redReviewed by Jen

I had a hard time connecting to this book.  I really enjoyed The Dark Lady, though, so I stuck with it.  I’m glad I did, because I got more invested in the last third or so. But the first book was definitely better.

This is Mary’s story. If you are familiar with the series, you’ll recognize her as the woman who escaped the asylum with Eva. (If you didn’t read book one, don’t worry, though. This works fine as a standalone.)  She barely got out of the horrific madhouse with her life.  She almost killed a guard to escape. Now the only place she has to turn is the madam who was friends with her mother before she died. [Read more…]

Review: The Dark Lady

Reviewed by Jen

Maire Claremont is embracing the dark side of Victorian London with this first installment of her Mad Passions series.  Our heroine, Eva, isn’t mad, but after what she has endured, no one hesitates to believe her late husband’s brother when he claims otherwise. Not only did her husband Hamilton die, but she lost their young son shortly afterwards.  Evil brother-in-law had her committed to a madhouse, where she has been locked away for the past two years.

The conditions Eva is forced to live with are subhuman.  The women are drugged… abused… violated. And she would have stayed there to rot, if not for the return of her childhood friend, Ian.

As children, Eva, Ian, and Hamilton were inseparable, the best of friends.  The were all raised by Hamilton’s father, who set up the betrothal of Eva and his son, before anyone was old enough to know their own hearts or minds.  Ian was the golden boy, and Hamilton became increasingly jealous and bitter that his father seemed to prefer his cousin.  The insidious feelings transformed Hamilton into a twisted man, which ultimately led to his own death.

Ian has always loved Eva, so when he saves her, his heart can’t help but beat for her.  Yet he has so much guilt wrapped up in Hamilton’s death (and about the fact he wasn’t there to save Eva sooner) that it cripples his ability to give in to his feelings.  Eva needs him, though, to help her beat her forced addictions… to elude her brother in law and the fiends hunting her from the asylum… and to prove her sanity.

It was so angsty and dark.  I really enjoyed the vast majority of the book.  The conditions in the madhouse were absolutely chilling. And what was done Eva was heartbreaking.  But in contrast, the tentative steps Eva and Ian take toward love and solace are so satisfying.  Ian is so utterly devoted to saving Eva in every way, to keeping her safe forever.  And she manages to find this inner strength, to rise above the horrors she has endured.  Both are so damaged by the past.  I got so wrapped up in reading it. It was very engaging.

It wasn’t perfect, though. The end of the book didn’t fit for me… it didn’t keep with the tone of all that came before it.  It was just too happy and perfect after all we went through with these two.  It took away something from the struggle they triumphed over (if that makes sense.)

Overall, I did like the book.  I liked that Clairmont wasn’t afraid to “go there,” especially in the first half. And I am very intrigued to read Mary’s story.  There is so much great material to mine from among the women in that asylum.

Rating: B

*ARC provided by author for review 

Click to purchase: Amazon
The Dark Lady
by Maire Claremont
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Signet Eclipse

Review: All I Want for Christmas Is a Duke

Reviewed by Jen

This duology features two fantastic novellas, featuring historical Christmas romances.  I would absolutely recommend, since I adored them both.

“Merry Christmas, Mrs Robinson” – I really, really enjoyed this one!! Years ago, Jane fell in love with a secret admirer.  A man who called himself only Mr. X sent her beautiful letters… letters she responded to in kind.  She had no idea they were coming from Martin, a younger friend who never believed she would return his affection if she knew who she was.  When an older, dashing man came forward, claiming to be Mr. X, Jane believed him and married him.  It only took a couple of weeks for his lies to surface and for Jane to demand a divorce.  Only, her husband dropped dead before he could grant her wish.

It’s been eight years since that happened.  Martin, who left town when Jane got married, is back.  And circumstances bring him back into Jane’s life.  This time, however, he refuses to hide who he is and how he feels.  Can they find love after all that has happened?

This story was so good!  The characters were so engaging. It’s impossible not to root for Martin as reaches for his dream of a life with Jane.  The sexual tension is palpable. The sex is hot.  And in just 100 pages or so, Delilah Marville had me completely emotionally invested in their future.  Loved.

“The 12 Days of Seduction” – The day Adrianna has long dreaded has finally come to pass.  Her employer has finally learned about her past and real identity. She had adopted a softer, more proper, persona as governess to Alexander’s daughter.  The position, and the child, have come to mean the world to her.  But all is not lost. Alexander wants her as his mistress. She challenges him to seduce her and as he works to do that, he ends up peeling back the layers of Adrianna’s true self she has hidden for so long.

Adrianna has worked hard to shed her horrible past, and she is a good person. I loved watching Alexander discover what a treasure she is. Just the right combination of romance and sensuality, this novella really hit the spot.

It’s rare for a novella to truly satisfy for me, but both of these really did.  I was already a fan of Marvelle, but now I won’t hesitate to try more from Clairmont.

Rating: B+

*ARC Provided by Entangled via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon
All I Want for Christmas Is a Duke
by Delilah Marvelle & Marie Claremont
Release Date: December 5, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing