When Lord Alec Carstairs returns from the Peninsular Wars, hailed as a hero in the midst of the London Season, only Annabelle Layton knows the sort of man that he really is, that the honor everyone praises is illusory.
They’d been close friends once, before a passionate kiss changed everything. But if she’d secretly loved him, those feelings had died one bright summer morning, when a reckless wager left Annabelle with terrifying injuries. Alec had abandoned her without a backwards glance.
Hardly the actions of a hero.
But Alec has never forgotten her, despite his vow to stay away. There is more to that long ago-day than Annabelle knows, and shocking lies have distorted the past. Can he uncover is painful truths, and still keep his distance from the stunning beauty? Can he deny his forbidden desire, even as it flares again between them, hotter than ever?
The story in a nutshell:
Alec has known Annabelle since they were children, with her being the younger sister of his best friend. Everything was platonic until… it wasn’t and Alec is suddenly finding himself drawn to Annabelle. But the tragic aftermath of a wager gone wrong has sent both their lives spiraling out of their control. He leaves and becomes a soldier while Annabelle is left feeling alone and abandoned. When Alec returns from the Peninsular Wars, the two meet again and maybe this time have the chance to clear the air between them and get to obtaining that happily ever after together.
What worked for me?
The brother’s best friend and younger sister trope is one of my favorites across all genres, be it historical or contemporary so this particular set-up in this book really hooked me in, although the story progresses beyond light-hearted feels and into more emotionally intense ones.
I really liked that despite the time and distance that have kept Annabelle and Alec apart, they still have that really strong connection, no matter what angle you get to see it from, and strong chemistry.
What did not work for me?
I was just overwhelmed with the trajectory of the aftermath of that fateful wager. I think it took too much time to be resolved even though I understood that it was a necessary plot especially for the character developments of Annabelle and Alec. I only wish that this particular plot was resolved earlier so that we also get to spend time with Alec and Annabelle without this issue hanging over their heads all the time.
My over-all take on it?
It was still an entertaining read and I would definitely still be checking out future releases from this author. And while there were light moments in this book, the wager in the beginning pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the story and this is not entirely a bad thing. Nevertheless, the romance was believable because I believe Annabelle and Alec deserve to be happy, especially together, after what they’ve been through.
Disclaimer: I received an eARC of this book from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. Yes, these are my honest and personal thoughts on this book.
About the Author:
Julie LeMense has been a Regency romance addict since her first deliciously bad Barbara Cartland novel. Now, she prefers the complex plotting and characterizations of Meredith Duran, Julie Anne Long, Sherry Thomas, and Sarah MacLean. If she’s not busy reading a romance, she’s probably writing one in her haunted Pennsylvania home, where ghosts from the Gilded Age try to sneak their way into her stories.
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