Title: The Wicked One, book 4 of the de Montforte Brothers series
Author: Danelle Harmon
Genre: Historical Romance
Story Setting: England, 1770’s
Published by: Danelle Harmon (May 25, 2012)
About the Story: Lucien de Montforte, Duke of Blackheath, has worked tirelessly with all sorts of schemes to get his brothers married, sooner rather than later. Through the series he is driven to make this so; not with humility are their marriages arranged, but with deviousness and great interference in the free-will of his brothers and now sisters-in law. He is so smug when he succeeds, that the reader begins feeling like he needs a big awakening.
He has a secret about himself which is not shared with the reader, so as you read through the series you wonder what it is. He alludes to his death and nightly is haunted by nightmares, rarely sleeps more than four hours nightly.
Even though each of his brothers are very much in love with their wives, he through his interference has lost much of the respect and love his brothers and sister once had for him. We also learn through books 1-3 that he loves his family, unswervingly so, promising his parents when he was age 10 that he would take care of them and be their mother and father which is the premise underpinning his need to get them happily married—before it is too late.
In book 4 he decides his sister Nerissa, the last of his siblings, must get married. She is already in love, and soon to be betrothed, but Perry, Lord Brookhampton, a neighbor and childhood playmate needs more time before he settles down. That doesn’t suit Lucien. With his need to control everyone’s lives, he with falsehood gets Perry to go to Spain. His thinking is Perry will realize that he wants to marry sooner rather than later since distance would make the heart grow fonder. Perhaps it would have turned out, but the unthinkable happens. Perry is lost at sea when a French ship attacks his ship. Those that survived were sent to the prison in France. Nerissa is on her way to hating her brother and is completely devastated. Lucien feels perhaps he’s gone too far this time and is crushed by how his sister feels. (Yes, it appears that Lucien just may have a heart.)
The stunning Eva de la Mouriere was a dedicated American patriot who needed to get France to commit to helping the Americans win their independence as a separate nation from England. In book 3 we are introduced to Eva and see how ruthless she is. She will kill, torment and steal anything to get what she wants. She stole a fake aphrodisiac from Andrew, Lucien’s brother, with grave repercussions. She’s out to get Lucien’s blood. She knows he was involved.
Eva knows she can outsmart Blackheath. The trouble is he affects her so strongly. She can’t look at him without wanting to frankly, strip him. She constantly fights this urge. She must stay in control. A man won’t ever control her again.
Excerpt: Book 4 begins with Eva waiting on Lucien’s bed, after having climbed the walls of the tower, with a pistol in her hand.
He was coming.
The darkened bedchamber was still. Eerily so. Outside, faint through the ancient walls, she could hear the night wind howling around the castle turrets. The solitary candle flame twisted and writhed against the winter drafts that managed to creep, unseen, through the leaded casement windows. But somehow, with some deep, primal part of herself, she sensed his presence. Knew that he had finally arrived…was now approaching. Then, faintly discernible over the wind, the rising tattoo of her heart, she heard them.
Coming, now, up the spiraling stone stairs of this ancient tower.
Her sense heightened. Her heartbeat quickened. Sitting cross legged on the huge medieval bed in the near darkness, her heavy skits fanning about her hips, she became keenly aware of every sensation; the icy air against her skin…the way his fine linen sheets felt against her calves, her feet, naked beneath her petticoats…the way the lone bedside candle seemed to shrink back in nervous anticipation. She caressed the butt of the pistol, savoring the comforting weight of it in her hands. Her breath, hanging thick as fog in her lungs, stirred in small, silent exhalations. She tensed like a cat posed to strike down her prey.
Any moment now…
And yes, there it was, the sound of his tread coming up those last few stairs as he made his way, unsuspecting, to his apartment, the footfalls louder now than the wind outside that had been her companion since she’d scaled, by way of a rope and her own wits, the parapets, the window ledge, the very walls that had been able to hold at bay cannon balls during the civil war, besiegers from the Middle Ages—but had been unable to keep her, one furious, determined woman, out.
But she was driven by purpose. She had come for one thing, and she would not leave without it. He had fooled her once, this man, his diabolical machinations nearly costing her her position at the French court and jeopardizing her standing amongst the American contingent in Paris—all of whom were working to secure France’s aid in the fight for American independence. She had worked hard to gain respect and prominence in a political arena dominated by men, but he had threatened that—and now she would threaten him.
. . . She squeezed the pistol lovingly. He would not emerge victorious this time. Oh, no. She had the element of surprise.
And, she—a slow, feline smile curved her lips-–had the cunning superiority of her gender.
I adore this excerpt because it sets the tone of the story—and from the first page. It shows us how desperate Eva is. Lucien is her adversary. The lovely way that Ms. Harmon creates the terrible tension that the readers feels is excruciating. What is she going to do? Shoot him right there? How is he going to get out of this?
My Thoughts: Lucien and Eva were wonderful characters to end the series. All throughout the books the reader has been wondering what makes Lucien act the way he does? Why is he so controlling? All his brothers and sisters-in-law gave him a wide berth. They were tired of being manipulated, controlled and treated as children.
Eva is frankly perfect for Lucien. Where he is controlling, she is more so. Her past has shaped her as much as Lucien’s. Danelle Harmon has introduced and developed Lucien so well that he is a character that you want him to receive his comeuppance and who better than the beautiful Eva who without a thought of remorse, will kill, maim, or steal whatever she sees fit to get what she wants. The perfect match to Lucien.
When the plot sets these two at each other, there are plenty of fireworks to outmaneuver each other including steamy sex scenes. Lucien is completely fascinated and frankly admires her, and his lust to have her in his bed backfires. Both are unhappy when Eva finds she’s pregnant. She’s more than unhappy. She wants revenge and goes seeking Lucien. He has ruined her reputation and her life. Who will out maneuver whom?
With the climatic moment both hero and heroine figuratively drop to their knees as the reader’s heart throbs in anguish. I was crying buckets! Those that climb highest in vanity fall from its very pinnacle.
Danelle Harmon did not disappoint me with the series. She’s a fantastic story-teller who was able to provide us with four completely different heroes and heroines, weaving them together with the ever controlling Lucien who eventually learns what life offers through love.
If you haven’t started the series yet, you will be thrilled when you do. I totally recommend this author, the ways she writes and the clever plots she creates.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Danelle Harmon has written many books, previously published in print and distributed in many languages throughout the world. Though born and raised in Massachusetts, she and her husband, a native of southwest London, were married and lived in England for several years. These days, Ms. Harmon and her husband make their home in New England with their daughter Emma and numerous animals including three dogs, an Egyptian Arabian horse, and numerous pet chickens. Danelle welcomes email from her readers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DanelleHarmon