Pride & Passion (The Brethren Guardians #2)
Author: Charlotte Featherstone
Release Date: 15 November 2011
Publisher: HQN Books
Lucy Ashton had long ago given up her quest for true love. In the rarified society of Victorian England, Lucy plays the game; flirting, dancing and dabbling in the newly fashionable spiritualism. Even marrying when and who she's supposed to. If the stuffy Duke of Sussex cannot spark the passion she craves, he can at least give her a family, a home of her own, and a place to belong. But when her polite marriage reveals a caring and sensual man, Lucy begins to wonder if she can indeed have it all.
But Lord Sussex is not the man the London ton has come to admire. And Lucy has some ghosts of her own, as well. Thus, when a blackmail scheme turns to threats of danger, the newfound peace of the Sussex marriage is cast upon the rocks. Passion has a price, Lucy learns. And not all ghosts stay buried.
I fully admit to buying this book largely based on this cover. I love it. I also think it represents the book really well- good job, book designer people! Unfortunately the actual story doesn't live up to its gorgeous cover.
My primary complaint and my biggest stumbling block to enjoying the book more was our heroine, Lady Lucy Ashton. Lucy proves at various points in the story that she's an intelligent young woman who hides her true feelings and desires behind the veneer of a lady of the ton. I like this Lucy, this Lucy should come across more often. Alas, far too often for my liking she becomes a melodramatic, stubborn numpty who is completely blind about certain things and people in her life. She foolishly vows to protect her lover, despite evidence that he is a murderer and has let her believe he's been dead for months. It takes her way too long to start to question his true character. Most irritatingly of all is that she makes assumptions about the character of the Duke of Sussex and clings to those assumptions, even when he repeatedly proves that he's not the passionless prig she thinks he is. Even towards the end, she still acts like this and I couldn't quite believe that she was being so obstinate. She's not always bad, as I mentioned earlier, but I really wish the author had given her a bit more sense.
I really enjoyed our hero of this tale, the Duke of Sussex- Adrian. He loves Lucy and has been trying to honestly court her for a while. Even when he discovers the truth about her lover, it doesn't deter him in any way and he still wants her desperately (despite her many faults). Adrian has become far too good at hiding his true nature behind a dukely shield and he doesn't let this side of him out very often. Which is a shame because Lucy certainly wouldn't have drawn such inaccurate conclusions about him if she had known more about who he truly is. I loved when Adrian's wilder, more dominant side came out and Lucy certainly has that effect on him. Adrian has many secrets he want to remain buried and I really enjoyed his backstory, even if I guessed it quite early on.
Lucy and Adrian are a good couple once their secrets come out in the end and they can finally be totally open and honest with each other. It comes a bit too late in the story and the last couple of chapters feel a bit rushed as it sets up the final installment in the series. Saying that, I really enjoyed the plot of the story with the race on to discover the identity of Orpheus and how he knows about the Brethren of Guardians.
I am very much looking forward to reading Temptation & Twilight (the next book) despite not loving this one. I think the plot drew me more than the actual romance and I hope that won't be the case in the next book. The next book centers around Elizabeth (Adrian's sister) and the Marquess of Alynwick (also a Guardian), and I have high hopes for their story since I really enjoyed Elizabeth's character in this story.