Draven would never have entered the home of his most hated adversary had not the King himself ordered him to take in his foe's daughter for a year to forge bonds of peace between their two feuding houses. Worse still, here is a lass whose exquisite loveliness could tempt Draven to betray his sworn vow never to let another close to his heart. Emily knows the searing heat of her passion could burn down the defenses of this proud warrior. But will the surrender of the sweet nectar of his lips and his bold, sensuous caress ignite a blaze so hot it consumes them both?
Comment: I can't remember when I added this to my TBR, probably after becoming a fan of the author's fantasy work as Sherrilyn Kenyon, and wanting to try something by her in a different genre.
In this book set in medieval times, we meet lady Emily. She is the youngest daughter of a lord and she wishes to become a wife and find love but her father has been quite difficult to convince and feels is better for her to stay away from men. However, political issues force him to let her go and stay with a neighbor, someone with whom he doesn't get along. Draven, the earl of Ravenwood, tries his best to do what his king orders him to, but to accept the presence of Emily as a proof the liaison with her father won't go into war seems a lot. The lady is not meek as her father described and she is not only tempting but tries her best to seduce him. Will it be possible for these two to be together after all, despite Draven's past and his promise to not hurt her?
While reading, not even half way through, I could already tell this would be an average story for me. It's actually a cute and enjoyable tale, the characters are likable, good people, interesting and obviously special, not truly constricted by the medieval setting, but nothing about this story felt like it was more than average, it wasn't really that special.
I think, as it often happens with books published years ago (this was in 2001, so more than 20 years), the timing can make a difference. Had I read it then, I might have liked it more whether because this was another example of the type of romance being published or because my tastes run more in this direction. Nowadays, I can see it as something with merit, of course, but not as spectacular and, in a way, my appreciation does feel lower than what it might have been. On the other hand, books published centuries before still sound amazing, so...
The story is very basic, Draven and Emily's father have been at odds for some time, the king intervenes and as a sort of truce makes Draven welcome Emily in his house for a year, as a proof of good faith, with the promise of not hurting her. Obviously, this being a romance, it's more than expected that Emily and Draven will become a couple, but what an adventure because Draven feels he is cursed, his father was a very bad man and he fears he might develop violent tendencies like he had. He does try to ignore or avoid Emily but she is very persistent for a medieval lady and tries her best to seduce him.
As the plot advances, of course we learn that things aren't as simple and Draven is one of those teddy bear personalities hiding under the fame of battle prowess and an unsmiling semblance and Emily wants to marry for love, falling for Draven's qualities which she learns as time goes by, at the same time the reader does. It's clear things were done so that we could see how such a good pair they would be, how well matched, and there are plenty scenes between them, both attempting to be fun and light, some romantic, some a little daring and throughout this all we can tell a HEA will certainly happen.
I think the part where the reader realizes how things are by dynamics and dialogue is pretty basic, not much technique to it and although simple, makes the point across. The writing style isn't incredible and the characters not as complex as those in books the author wrote later on in other series, but I think the job was done well enough. The villains and the obstacles to overcome were also simple, easy to spot and solve, after some conflict and the usual redeeming sections. I would say there wasn't anything truly special but, to be fair, nothing wrong either.