Lady in Red (Mad Passions #2)
Author: Máire Claremont
Publisher: Signet Eclipse (Headline Eternal- UK)
Release Date: 1 October 2013
The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor…
Lady Mary Darrel should be the envy of London. Instead, all society believes her dead. For Mary holds a secret so dangerous, her father chose to keep her locked away…and have a grave made for her near her mother’s. Driven to the edge of desperation, Mary manages to escape the asylum, only to find that her fate yet again rests in the hands of a man…
Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, longs for some way to escape the torment of his father’s crimes. In Mary’s warrior spirit and haunted gaze—which so mirrors his own—he finally sees his path to redemption. He will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even as she seeks revenge. But will the passion they discover in each other be enough to save them from their demons?
I loved The Dark Lady (the first book in the Mad Passions series) so much, and I was very much looking forward to getting stuck in to Lady in Red. Personally, although I didn't love this book as much as the first, I still really liked it and was engrossed in Mary's story.
Mary is such an incredibly strong character, and my heart bled for her. Mary had been thrown into a mental asylum, run by a cruel and merciless mistress, and left for dead. Mary suffered horrific abuse at the asylum, where she was raped, beaten and force fed laudanum. Despite all of this, Mary doesn't lose her determination to survive and escapes the asylum. She doesn't let her past break her down, and becomes determined to have her revenge- with the aid of Edward, Duke of Fairleigh. I loved how badass Mary could be, she is trained by Edward and his friend, Viscount Powers, in order to ready herself for her revenge. She's the type of heroine you root for and marvel at her strength, whilst urging her to not throw away the chance for love in front of her.
Edward was also a great character, and has his own dark past that tortures him. He's flawed and driven by his need to do the right, honourable thing and avoid his parents' fates. His demons constantly chase him, and sometimes he could be blind to what he needed, i.e. Mary. Although I loved how Edward protected Mary and brought out the woman she could be.
I loved Edward and Mary together, they have a very dark and intense romance, which sometimes seemed doomed. At first they seem to be using each other for their own needs, but as they become closer it's apparent that as much as Mary needs Edward, he needs her as well. They just had an instantaneous chemistry that has you rooting for them both from the beginning.
I also loved the addition of Viscount Powers, as a character. He connects with Mary on a different level than Edward, and can relate to her struggles with addiction. In some ways he understand things about Mary that Edward can't, and I did enjoy the additional 'love triangle' element he presented. Although, because I was so intrigued by Powers, at times he overshadowed Edward and left me confused as to who it was I wanted Mary to end up with.
I love Máire's writing so much. She doesn't pull any punches and sometimes it can be almost painful to read about the suffering of the characters you come to know so well. But there's a dark beauty woven throughout the whole story that draws you in and doesn't let you put it down. With the darkness, there's light and I'm so looking forward to reading Powers' story in The Dark Affair, and hopefully he'll find his light.