Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: Passions of a Wicked Earl by Lorraine Heath

Title: Passions of a Wicked Earl
Series: London's Greatest Lovers
Author: Lorraine Heath
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: October 26, 2010
Publisher: Avon
ISBN: 006192296X
ISBN-13: 9780061922961

Known throughout London for his prowess in the bedroom, Morgan Lyons, the 8th Earl of Westcliffe, cannot forgive an unpardonable affront to his honor. Discovering his young bride in the arms of his brother was a staggering blow—so he banished the beautiful deceiver to the country and devoted himself to the pursuit of carnal pleasure.

Claire Lyons was an innocent, frightened girl on her wedding day, seeking chaste comfort from a childhood friend. Now, years later, she has blossomed magnificently and has returned to London with one goal in mind: the seduction of her notorious husband. Unskilled in the sensual arts, she burns nonetheless for the kisses too long denied her. And she has but one Season to win back the heart of the rogue she betrayed.

My rating:

I've been dreading this book ever since I received in the mail almost two years ago, read the blurb and read the first chapter. Needless to say, it went directly back on the shelf. he banished the beautiful deceiver [his young (and innocent) bride] to the country and devoted himself to the pursuit of carnal pleasure

Because when a woman just looks at a guy she's not married to she's a slut (she was a naive 17-year-old, she didn't know better) and needs to be banished to the countryside, while her husband, intent on the pursuit of carnal pleasure (and not with his wife) gets an Attaboy!, the dastardly bastard.

But I finally decided to man up and actually go beyond that first chapter. I’m not sorry I did. I had a strange feeling in my stomach for the first few chapters, though. Because I wanted to kick the hero somewhere really painful, and I wanted to slap the heroine for being an immature, naïve chit three years ago.
Yeah, they both deserved it. Because they were both idiots. He more than her, though.

But once they started to get to know each other, once a tentative friendship blossomed between them, the strange feeling in my stomach disappeared and I sincerely rooted for them. The two characters worked perfectly together, creating intense tension. Mrs. Heath made them appear real, flawed, making mistakes, prone to misunderstandings, layered like onions (especially the hero), and I simply fell in love with them both just as they fell in love with each other.

Was the premise unorthodox? Yes. But it worked for the story and for the character development. I truly believe what happened on their wedding night made them so very perfect for each other three years later. Their misgivings upon the reunion were the reason they actually got to know each other, which they never got to do before. That betrayal and the subsequent separation helped them mature, so when they met again, they had to go through what they didn’t before. The friendship, the courtship and the falling in love.
Would they’ve done the same if nothing happened on their wedding night? Perhaps, but I sincerely doubt it. They probably would’ve turned into the ‘normal’ regency married couple – strangers that just happen to share a last name.
So, the plot twist (that actually happened in the beginning) served its purpose superbly and I was glad not to see a repeat performance from the first chapter. This is a romance after all, the hero and heroine were meant to have a HEA.

I’m glad to report, this was par with Heath’s previous novels I’ve read. Great characterization, wonderful tension, explosive chemistry, lots of misgivings and misunderstandings, nice pacing, an insane villain, and a perfect ending. I could’ve done without the extra ‘twist’ toward the end, but it needed to take place for the hero to finally realize he was indeed capable of loving.


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