Jane Lark pulls the reader into turmoil, fear, and anguish from the first page. Then she throws us to the passion of a rake. My friends, do not miss this one. I loved it and looking forward to continuing the series.
About the Story: This is a story about Jane Grey, a beautiful exotic looking 26-year-old Dowager Duchess of Sutton, who was sold to the Duke of Sutton when she was 17. The duke was three times her age. In her marriage of nine years she was poorly used and lived a life as a bird in a cage. After his death his son, Joshua, twenty years her senior attempts to control her life yet once again. She has to find the strength to break free from the web entrapping her.
Her parted husband left her his considerable money and now his son wants it all—the entailed property AND the money. But Jane wants a life and the money will give it to her. To give herself time to think and strategize how to stay out of the new duke’s clutches, she decides to visit with Violet, whom she met when she was in Bath when the Duke took the waters. She was the only person she considered a friend and could turn to.
While at a ball with Violet, she recognized Robert, her childhood friend and more as we find out. She finds time and distance has not freed her from the pull to her heart strings. Robert was no longer the childhood friend, but a rake with a love and leave them string of one night stands behind him. He was the eleventh Earl of Barrington who apparently enjoyed bedding every woman he could and the women all flocked to him. He had a considerable rakish reputation.
The story proceeds with Jane trying to escape Joshua and now Robert, too. Why should she want anything to do with men? Joshua would control and cage her; Robert would love her one night and leave. Can Jane learn to trust Robert when she needs help and protection from Joshua? Can Robert be more to Jane than just a one-night stand? She trusted him when they were young, but life had changed both of them.
My Thoughts: I picked this book up, thinking it was the first of the series, but found it to be the second. It didn’t seem to make a difference. It easily stands alone.
This story was a wrenching heart tugging romance with moments of exquisite tenderness between Robert and Jane. Robert, with his rakish behavior, struggles with his heart, finding it difficult to control his body and feelings for her. He reminds himself throughout the story that she had chosen another. Not him. The young Robert was devastated, had left his studies and went abroad, just to bury his feelings for Jane. How could he still love her now when she had thrown him over so easily all those years ago? These conflicting feelings create the anguish that Robert feels and the author quite masterly conveys them to the reader.
The reader is easily caught up in Jane’s fear. She had been smothered for so long that she hardly had the capability to try to escape Joshua. She feared the physical harm that Joshua would deal her if she didn’t comply and worst she was beginning to understand that it just wasn’t her, but it would be dealt out to those she was close to.
Robert was not the boy she remembered. She had trusted him long ago. He broke that bond of trust. Now he was an extremely handsome, hot-tempered man—unfortunately, she was more drawn to the adult Robert than she was the young man. So Jane was in as much conflict as Robert. Each of them not fully aware of the circumstances that molded the events. Yet, we as the reader, know some of them as we are made aware, and we must add our own distress knowing that it could have all turned out differently, if only.
This was a beautiful and yes passionate love story. It was nicely written, particularly since we know that Jane Lark is a debut novelist. Her characters were well drawn with exacting description leaving the reader to be plunged into despair when events turn foul and elated and well satisfied when events bring Robert and Jane closer. I would highly recommend this read to romance lovers who enjoy a complex story where love changes who are touched by its embers.
Bio of Jane Lark on GoodReads https://www.goodreads.com/JaneLark
*HarperImpulse is romance novels from the women’s fiction team at HarperCollins. Its mission is to introduce debut novelists and new talent.