Like most everyone who reads romantic fiction, we have our list of favorite authors that we love and collect almost religiously, which often makes it difficult to take the leap with someone new. Since I began reviewing books for Novels Alive TV more than a year ago, I’ve been forced to throw caution to the wind many times by reading works by relatively unknown authors and even established ones, that for one reason or another I never gave a chance before.
Although there have been a few…less, than stellar offerings, as a whole I’ve become grateful for the opportunity to find new and wonderful voices in the romance genre that I might never had heard otherwise.
Recently I received a copy of a novella, THE MISBEHAVING MARQUESS by Leigh LaValle, which enchanted me so completely that I immediately hopped onto the computer to find what other books she had to offer. To my surprise, considering how artfully crafted this short story of betrayal, forgiveness and love was, the author only had one other title, her debut novel, THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS, in her library.
The level of writing was so superb it was hard to believe that her talent had not come to light years earlier, but I am very grateful that it has now, with I hope, lot’s more of her stories waiting over the horizon.
[quote]“Her heart longs for justice, but her body clamors for sin.
Once the darling of high society, Mazie Chetwyn knows firsthand how quickly the rich and powerful turn their backs on the less fortunate. Orphaned, penniless and determined to defy their ruthless whims, she joins forces with a local highwayman who steals from the rich to give to the poor.
Then the pawn broker snitches, and Mazie is captured by the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire. A man who is far too handsome, far too observant…and surely as corrupt as his father once was.
Sensible, rule-driven Trent Carthwick, twelfth Earl of Radford, is certain the threat of the gallows will prompt the villagers’ beloved Angel of Kindness to reveal the highwayman’s identity. But his bewitching captive volunteers nothing—except a sultry, bewildering kiss.
And so the games begin. Trent feints, Mazie parries. He threatens, she pretends nonchalance. He cajoles, she rebuffs. Thwarted at every turn, Trent probes deep into her one vulnerability—her past. There he finds the leverage he needs and a searing truth that challenges all he believes about right and wrong.”[/quote]
This was an extremely powerful story with the perfect storm of characters and an engrossing storytelling that made it nearly impossible to walk away from unless absolutely necessary!
[pullquote_left]…an extremely powerful story with the perfect storm of characters…[/pullquote_left]Mazie is a young woman who has been tilting at windmills for so long, trying to protect and help those around her that she has hopelessly become bound in the fate of others. When Trent comes storming into her life like a powerful force of nature, determined to uncover those secrets at any cost in the name of justice, the sparks immediately begin to fly.
Each bound by the lessons of a lifetime and their differing loyalties, neither is prepared to face the feelings that begin to draw them together when they should be worlds apart. Their constant struggle, along with the progressive revelations that come from seeing glimpses of the lost souls behind the masks they wear only make the reader cheer harder when they finally let those masks slip and learn to trust, love and cherish the thing they never thought they would have—each other.
Although written sometime earlier as part of anthology, THREE WEDDINGS AND A MURDER, the independent release of THE MISBEHAVING MARQUESS is truly a sequel to THE RUNAWAY COUNTESS, in that it tells the story of Trent’s sister Cat’s estranged marriage and ultimate reconciliation.
[quote]“Having awaited the return of her husband for half a decade, Catherine Raybourne, the Marchioness of Foster, has no intention of reconciling with her misbehaving marquess. But when he insists he needs an heir-immediately-she must confront her own lingering desires. Can she protect her heart while attempting to win his once again.”[/quote]
The ONLY fault that I could find with this story was that I couldn’t help but wish that it was much, much longer. Not because it lacked for anything or felt rushed along to keep the context of a novella, but because the story was just so wonderful I wasn’t prepared for it to end so soon.
I truly cannot wait to read THE ROGUE’S RETURN when it comes out later this year. Finding the perfect match for the “Midnight Rider” will be difficult, but I am positive this new author is up to the challenge.
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