Well, dear reader, this story was as wonderful as it started. And Danelle Harmon has me on a cliff at the end of the story – there is no way that I can’t read book 2 right away.
About the Story: Juliet, alone and nowhere to turn, to protect her 6-month old daughter, decides to do what Lord Charles de Montforte told her to do. If anything were to happen to him she must take their child to England and present herself to his family. They would take care of her and his child. She only wished that they had married before he was killed in battle.
The crossing from Boston to England was difficult for both her and the baby. She had never left her home of Boston and the store where she kept the account and ordered supplies. She took a stagecoach to Berkshire, but just as she’s almost there the coach is stopped by a rough group of highway men seeking jewelry and coin. Lord Gareth on his way home from a race that he’d just won, chances on the coach being robbed, did something completely out of character. He had to help those people especially when he saw children and women. He, single-handedly, tries to stop the men. Heroically, he stops them but injured in the process.
Juliet, grateful for his timely appearance, ran to him to try to see if he was dead. Once she saw he wasn’t but was losing lots of blood, she took control of the situation. She stopped most of the bleeding. Juliet could not let this hero who had saved them die. All the passengers rallied round, overpowered the only robber left standing tying him up. Luckily, Lord Gareth’s friends, his group named the Den of Debauchery, weren’t far behind him and Juliet again took control of the situation, for his friends were foxed. The men suggested taking him to the duke straight away and one of the men went for a doctor.
When Juliet realized that Lord Gareth was Charles’s brother, she understood why Lord Gareth had looked so familiar and comfortable. Their features were very similar. Lord Gareth asked Juliet to go to the estate with him. Juliet, covered with Lord Gareth’s blood joined Lord Gareth in the coach and they proceeded to the duke’s estate. Lord Gareth couldn’t believe Juliet Paige, this young attractive woman, was his dead brother’s fiancée and mother to Charles’s daughter.
The Duke of Blackheath, Lucien, Lord Gareth’s brother, known as a very serious, manipulative person amongst his family, didn’t make Juliet welcome, but through the insistence of his two younger siblings she stayed at the mansion. Lord Gareth was singing her praises saying that she had saved his life through her quick thinking. She was saying that he had saved everyone’s lives on the coach. He was the hero. Would Juliet be welcomed into the de Montforte family with her bastard child?
I just loved the excerpt below . Nothing like action, romance and history packed into one vibrant story.
Excerpt from The Wild One (this clinched it for me):
“Everybo’y out. Now!”
Holding Charlotte tightly against her, Juliet managed to remain calm as the robber snared her wrist and jerked her violently from the vehicle. She landed awkwardly in the sticky white mud and would have gone down if not for the huge, bearlike hand that yanked her to her feet. Perhaps, she thought numbly, it was the very fact that it was bearlike that she was able to keep her head—and her wits—about her, for Juliet had been born and raised in the woods of Maine, and she was no stranger to bears, Indians, and a host of other threats that made these English highwaymen look benign by comparison.
But they were certainly not benign. The slain driver lay face-down in the mud. The bodies of one of the guards and a passenger were sprawled in the weeds nearby. A shudder went through her. She was glad of the darkness. Glad that the poor little children still inside the coach were spared the horrors that daylight would have revealed.
Cuddling Charlotte, she stood beside the other passengers as the robbers yanked people down from the roof and lined them up in front of the coach. A woman was sobbing. A girl clung pitifully to the old man, perhaps her grandfather. One fellow, finely dressed and obviously a gentleman, angrily protested the treatment of the women and without a word, one of the highwaymen stuck his pistol into his belly and short him dead. As he fell, the wretched group gasped in dismay and horror. Then the last passengers were dragged from the coach, the two children clinging to their mother’s skirts and crying piteously.
They all huddled together in the rainy darkness, too terrified to speak as, one by one, they were relieved of their money, their jewels, their watches, and their pride.
And then the bandits came to Juliet.
“Gimme yer money, girl, all of it. Now!”
Juliet complied. Without a sound, she handed over her reticule.
“The necklace, too.”
Her hand went to her throat. Hesitated. The robber cuffed it away in impatience, ripping the thin gold chain from her neck and dropping the miniature of Charlotte’s dead father into his leather bag.
She was still staring at the bag. “No.”
But he grabbed her hand, held it up, and saw it: a promise made but broken by death. It was Charles’s signet ring – her engagement ring—the last thing her beloved finance had given her before he had died in the fighting at Concord.
“Filthy lyin’ bitch, give it to me!”
Juliet stood her ground. She looked him straight in the eye and firmly, quietly, repeated the single word.
Without warning he backhanded her across the cheek, and she fell to her knees in the mud, cutting her palm on a stone as she tried to prevent injury to the baby. Her hair tumbled down around her face. Charlotte began screaming. And Juliet looked up, only to see the black hole of pistol’s mouth two inches away, the robber behind it snarling with rage.
Her life passed before her eyes.
And at that moment a shot rang out from somewhere off to her right, a dark rose exploded on the highwayman’s chest, and with a look of surprise, he pitched forward, dead.
Review: The story begins with a letter from Lord Charles to his brother Duke of Blackheath asking him to take care of Juliet Paige and his unborn child if anything should happen to him. This was written before he went off to battle and when we found out that Juliet was pregnant. The unthinkable happened. He was killed in battle. Through this letter the reader could already understand the caliber of Charles and his love to Juliet Paige.
The action and suspense immediately following this letter kept me riveted to the story. Danelle Harmon is a real story-teller showing us what was happening with her action packed words. I was in that stagecoach with Juliet and her child. I was there seeing it all, the deaths, the brutality and the look in Lord Gareth’s eyes when he finds his head in her lap as she tries to stem the flow of blood from his wound. To me, that’s the sign of a story-teller when she sweeps the reader into the whirlwind of action.
Charles wasn’t really part of the story although he was in the minds and hearts of both Lord Gareth and Juliet. Each had loved him. Lord Gareth is conflicted because he never was able to be the well-behaved brother. Charles had been that. Lord Gareth excelled in having fun and doing crazy stunts. The duke is pulled into the story as he is driven to take desperate measures to help Lord Gareth. He had lost one brother, he didn’t want to lose another.
Juliet had loved Lord Charles, yet she was attracted to Lord Gareth. Could this be because he looked so much like Charles? She has this problem to work out through the story-telling. Juliet also was conflicted because her new surroundings in England were grand. The de Montforte brothers apparently were very wealthy. She hadn’t known that. Could she possibly feel like she belonged coming from much commoner beginnings?
I’m ready to start book 2. The Wicked One was the story of Lord Gareth. The Beloved One, the next of the series is about Lord Charles. But I thought he was dead? Well, dear reader, apparently he’s not and this will be very interesting to see how Juliet Paige reacts to this as well as the whole family.
Author Bio (taken from GoodReads): New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Danelle Harmon has written twelve critically acclaimed and award-winning books, with many being published all over the world. A Massachusetts native, she has lived in Great Britain, though these days she and her English husband make their home in New England with their daughter Emma and numerous animals including three dogs, an Egyptian Arabian horse, and a flock of pet chickens. Danelle enjoys reading, spending time with family, friends and her animals, and sailing her Melonseed skiff, Kestrel II. She welcomes email from her readers and can be reached at Danelle@danelleharmon.com.