Desperation forced Portia to agree to marry a madman. The arrangement will offer the protection she needs. Or so she believes until the marquess’s distractingly handsome son peruses the fine print . . .and takes his father’s place!
Now the sedate—and, more importantly, secure—union Portia planned has been tossed in favor of one simmering with wicked temptation and potential heartbreak. Because as she begins to fall for her devilishly seductive husband, her dark secrets surface and threaten to ruin them both—unless Locke is willing to risk all and open his heart to love.
Comment: This is the third story in the Hellions of Havisham trilogy by Lorraine Heath. There's a sequel novella but I'm not likely to read it. This is another story where the author creates a complicated situation which drags until the protagonists must face it.
In this book we finally have the story of Killian, viscount Lockley, whose father is considered mad by many and Killian sometimes thinks so as well, although he wants nothing more than to protect his father. The marquess Marsden isn't crazy, only deep in grieving his late wife, whom he loved very much. Killian sees what love does and wants nothing with it but one day, he's apparently aloof father is ready at breakfast, waiting for his new bride, who answered a notice in the newspaper. Upon seeing her, Killian can't help but like what he sees but he believes her a fortune hunter preying on his father and decides to provoke her. The solution comes when he checks the marriage contract and realizes his father's name isn't there and Killian ruins her plans by marrying her himself...after all, he wouldn't fall in love with a woman whose only interest is money and status. However, as time goes by, she doesn't behave as anything but the perfect wife and woman.... could it be she is as genuine as she appears?
Although one can say most plots follow used and known clichés, it's the author's imagination, talent and choices that can turn something predictable or seen into something special and interesting. I think this book is proof of that because the way the story starts is very plain and seen in many historical romances but here, it felt as if those characters were better and more captivating than others in different books in the same genre.
I think the set up was a bit too fictionalized but I can suspend disbelief if the rest is engrossing enough and I liked both protagonists from the start, so that was easy. Killian had the fame of womanizer and such, as the heroes of the previous books did too, but of course we learn differently as the story goes by. It can be said that Killian had a very modern look at things if one thinks about the rules of society and the mentality of the 19th century when it comes to nobility, but I mean, that's the fun part, to have characters that make us root for them and Killian revealed his personality and hero potential with all the deeds and actions he performed as the plot evolved.
As for Portia, she does seem to be a bit more complex, personality wise, because she faced situations which women always would be looked down at for them and still Portia was a good person, sees the beauty and the positive, even though she had reasons to be bitter and sad. What she had to deal with was emotionally draining and probably would have caused anyone to feel unworthy and with no way to cope, but Portia is a very likable character and I was rooting for her.
The romance was quick, mostly for plot reasons, but if there is one thing I'd complain about it is how much time is dedicated to their sexual intimacy. It's nt a big deal but I wish there had been a bit more tension between them, more awareness without giving in so soon. At times, it did feel as if their relationship was a bit too mercenary but of course, by the end of the book, I was very glad with the way they feel in love and reached happiness.
The plot has some conflict, as predicted, and the big secrets are unraveled a bit before the end, which allows them time to deal with things and try their "redemption" actions. This is why I said things are predictable but despite that, I was still rooting for them and felt the obstacles were acceptable for the kind of reactions they had and what they decided to do to overcome the problems. I think there's a certain sense of realism to some details, which means I never thought they were being silly or having tantrums, their pain felt real, as did the moment they "made up".
There's an important secondary character, Killian's father. He has been a recurrent character in the trilogy for he welcomed the protagonists of the other books when they were boys after their parents died. He has been someone most characters mention fondly, even though he is still mourning and grieving after so many years. I liked how sweet and funny this man ended up being and kept wishing he would find peace. The final scenes of the book were very emotional in this regard.
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