Good morning. Hope your Sunday is shaping up to be a wonderful day. It’s been a while since I’ve brought you book suggestions and reviews, but thanks to my recent holidays, I’ve had the opportunity to do some phenomenal reading. Over the next few Sundays, I hope to inspire you to pick up some of these great books, written by a variety of newer and established authors, showcasing their remarkable talents.
As many of you know, I’m an eclectic writer. I flit from genre to gene like a butterfly sampling nectar from a variety of plants. My reading tastes are similar, since I tend to read what I like to write, but I’ve begun to spend more time outside of my reading and writing boxes than in them, and I’m very glad I have. There are some excellent books out there to consider and enjoy. These reviews are in chronological order based on the order in which I read the books.
I’m going to begin my summer reviews with To Live Again, an erotic historical novella by author V.L. Edwards. This author works with Secret Cravings Publishing, one of my publishers. This was her first foray into the world of erotic romance and while I’m no expert, I think she’s done an excellent job of it.
I’ve long been a fan of historical romance, but this one packed a whole lot of surprises, and I enjoyed it a lot. I’m a sucker for injured, scarred heroes as you all know, so the gorgeous Warren DeWinter, widowed Earl of Broadmoor fit the bill perfectly.
Here’s the premise:
Warren DeWinter, the Earl of Broadmoor, a widower, with a young son, grieves for his late wife. Warren hunts for his pleasures on the streets of London, rather than the ballrooms of the ton. On his monthly excursion, he meets a young woman he believes is a lady of the evening. What he finds…is an untried virgin, desperate to feed her brother and sister.
When Warren bribes Amelia’s tale from of her, he finds that not only did he take her innocence, she’s a gentlewoman. He feels compelled to marry her. Determined to protect his wife’s memory, he only spends time with Amelia in the bedchamber, where passion threatens to burn them up. However, Amelia’s determined to win his affections by lavishing love on his son. Will Warren be able to resist Amelia’s beguiling ways? Can Amelia bring the walls surrounding his heart crashing down, allowing Warren…to live again.
To fully appreciate this review, you have to realize that while I’d read the book blurb when I got the book, I didn’t look at it again before reading the story. For the record, I rarely do, letting the plot grab me as the story unfolds. Whether I’m reading as a beta reader for fellow authors or as a reviewer, I prefer to let the book surprise me. Sometimes, I get more than I bargained for!
You only have to look at the cover to realize this isn’t going to be your typical early nineteenth century romance, in fact, the blindfold put me in mind of a BDSM novel, not my favorite type of reading, but because I believe it’s wrong to judge a book by its cover, I continued reading, and am I ever glad I did because the book is full of surprises.
The first few pages had me convinced this was a murder novel a la Jack the Ripper–strange man haunting the streets of London looking for a red-headed hooker–what did he have in mind? Was he looking for a particular fallen woman? He’s about to give up when along comes the prey–a sweet soul, quiet, possibly out of her element, and scared. She should be! What the heck do you think you’re doing, woman?
But then, instead of the grizzly murder I’d expected, there is the first of many well-written, love scenes, not really BDSM, but they do involve a blindfold and restraints, but not for punishment purposes– they are there out of the hero’s fear and self-loathing, the agony he lives with each and everyday as he attempts to keep anyone from touching him. I was hooked.
The next surprise came when the lovely lady wasn’t an experienced courtesan down on her luck I’d thought her to be, but a virgin who’d sold her maidenhead for a measly ten pounds. It was obvious this turn of events stunned the hero, not enough to slow him down completely, but he did try to make things better for her.
A gentleman, DeWinter goes out for breakfast and surprises the young woman getting ready to leave with the money he’d left on his dresser. Ignoring the fact that she’d taken the money, (which she’d done innocently, and incidentally I thought he’d up and left and they’d meet again in the story under other circumstances giving light to a whole embarrassed scene) he gets Amelia to confess the reasons behind her drastic actions. Because of who she is, a guilty conscience, and a sexual appetite he can’t quite suppress, he takes her back to her rooms to collect the brother and sister for which she sold the only thing of value she had left, deals with a thoroughly obnoxious landlady, and offers Amelia marriage in exchange for the fact that he’s ruined her. Bearing in mind the mores of the day, this is actually very noble of him. He could’ve shrugged it off. After all, he’d been using women this way monthly for three years, but there’s something about Amelia that makes him go the distance instead. Class distinction was alive and well at the time.
There’s the set up. Since she was willing to sell her body to pay the rent and put food on the table, the fact that she agrees to marry a rich stranger who can make her body do things she’d never imagined is beautifully set up and in keeping with the tradition of this type of historical romance. I loved Amelia’s grit and determination.I expected more conflict, possibly a scene where the way they met would come out, maybe even inappropriate actions on the part of Warren’s womanizing friend, but all in all, the fact that these plot threads weren’t explored didn’t take away from my appreciation of the story.
To Live Again is a beautifully crafted story of love and redemption. It is set in the early part of the nineteenth century, with excellent descriptions and well-written dialogue. The characters are well-rounded and as a reader, I found myself hoping Amalia would succeed in her campaign to win her husband’s love. The paranormal twist at the end is surprising, but it just added a sense of completion to the tale. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a happily ever after tale with more than a taste of spice to it.
You can get a copy of To Live Again from Amazon