Friday, July 19, 2013

Lord of Wicked Intentions

Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine Heath L

Evelyn Chambers is the illegitimate, but much beloved, daughter of the Earl of Wortham and is entrusted to her brother, Geoffrey, when her father dies. But Geoffrey is in dire need of cash because of his gambling addiction and has no familial feelings toward the girl who made his own mother's life miserable and he decides to sell her off as a mistress to one of his friends. He invites Rafe Easton to the auction, never intending for him to bid on Evelyn, but Evelyn immediately catches Rafe's eye and he is determined to make Evelyn his own. Rafe is one of the lost Lords of Pembroke and as the youngest was left at a workhouse and has never gotten over his feelings of abandonment or inadequacy. He has worked his way up to own a prominent gambling establishment but he hasn't done so without making enemies. Evelyn is under the impression that Geoffrey had found her a husband and she is horrified when Rafe reveals to her that he intends to make her his mistress. She had always wanted respectability, a family, and children, and she knows that this will ruin her chances, but she also knows that she has no other choice and nowhere else to go.

Rafe intends to have a mutually beneficial arrangement and they agree that after their affair is over she will maintain the house as well as any items, including jewelry that he purchases and he decides to give her time to get used to him before consummating their relationship. Even though he had no plans for Evelyn to be anything more than a mistress he finds himself spending more time at his house, more time engaged in fun pursuits with her, than at his gambling hell. Evelyn knows that Rafe has a dark past and has a fear of becoming close to anyone, but the more she gets to know him she realizes that there is a good person underneath it all and wants their relationship to be more. Rafe cannot bring himself to admit that his feelings have changed and he risks losing Evelyn just as someone he thought gone from his life reappears and threatens him and all he holds dear. It is Evelyn who comes to his rescue and they both know that they want a long and happy life together; a life based on love.

The Lost Lords of Pembroke series have all featured a seriously tortured hero and a heroine who is almost too good (kind and understanding) to be true. Evelyn is naive in the beginning and I found her development so well written as she came to understand more about the world and more about her own past. I liked that she was a fighter and wanted the happy ending, but still faced reality without becoming bitter or overly proud. Rafe was incredibly hard and definitely projected an untouchable facade, but his cracks began to show early as he couldn't bring himself to abandon Evelyn. We learned more about his good deeds and about the bad things in life he has done (and of course how bad he feels about all of them) which make it clear that he is just waiting for the right woman to come along to help him work through his demons. Evelyn and Rafe work well together, but I found myself concerned that she was in a situation without any real choices and thus she wasn't truly free to make informed decisions. This gave her developing feelings for him a tinge of coercion (Stockholm syndrome a la Beauty and the Beast) and was more than a little icky for me.

Rafe and Evelyn did spend a lot of time together, going to his club, walking in the park, and discussing their pasts which was something they both needed to work through. A lot of this time was spent with just the two of them, which normally I liked, but because of the reasons stated above made me a little uneasy. Eventually other people began to play a part in their lives, namely his brothers and their wives and I was so happy that she was expanding her life beyond him that the character dropping didn't bother me here. There were a few sex scenes between them and they were all rather tame. Literally dropped in to the very end of the story was a big problem and it came out of nowhere, but was resolved rather quickly and really just served as the impetuous for both of them to realize and admit their feelings. Heath's writing is always fun and fast and easy to get through and this book was no exception.

Rating: An enjoyable book with great character development and an interesting relationship that held a few problems for me.

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