Thus reads the Banns of marriage between Lord Harold Brookes and Miss Sophia Babineaux.
“If any of you know cause why these two should not be joined in Holy matrimony, ye are to declare it.”
Would anyone declare it?
THE BRIDE wants to declare it. The heat Sophia feels for another man has given her a bad case of cold feet! She’d never even been kissed, how was she to know the importance of sizzle? By the time she realizes her mistake it may be too late…
THE GROOM never wanted to marry Sophia in the first place. His interests (ahem) lie elsewhere. Unfortunately, with a duke for a father, Lord Harold has no say in the matter at all.
So it’s up to war hero and rake, Captain Devlin Brookes to set matters right. He’s just returned from war and ready to settle down, unfortunately the girl he wants is, well, ah… unavailable.
But he has a plan.
Once set in motion, one lie turns into a spiral of deceit and guilt. Was one shot at heaven worth a lifetime of hell?
Because love endures but the heart has it’s limits.
Or does it?
Series: Devilish Debutantes, #2
Release: January 22, 2018
This is an incredibly difficult review to write, I liked the idea of the story, but it is not a light, easy read and the HEA is bittersweet and tainted with incredible heartbreak. I also feel obligated to mention that this book has several “triggers” that might be upsetting to some readers, such as homosexuality, child molestation, rape and adultery.
Devlin Brooks and Sophia Babineaux meet when Dev saves her. Sophia is trapped under an overturned circus wagon – complete with a lion! Dev organizes men to move the wagon and climbs down to Sophia. He calms her and claims a kiss. He is immediately smitten with her and asks to call on her. Sophia is equally taken by him, but replies that her fiancée would most likely object to him calling on her. Sophia introduces Dev to her friend Rhoda and is annoyed when they flirt. But when Dev cuddles her dog, she knows her heart is lost to him.
Dev leaves Sophia and goes to visit his family. He is shocked to learn his cousin Harold is engaged to be married – he knows that Harold is not attracted to women and is in a relationship with his longtime lover and valet. He agrees to join the family at the theater and then takes his leave. He visits the park the next day, hoping to find Sophia, even knowing she is promised to another, he tells himself to think of her as a friend, but he knows in his heart that what he feels for her is much more than friendship. They talk and a bond forms, he asks about her betrothed and she is vague. They seem to be getting along fine, until Sophia sees her stepbrother Dudley. Not wanting him to tell her parents, she rushes home and tells her mother she is having second thoughts about marrying Harold. This is when she learns the truth – Harold’s family has paid hers to ensure they marry. Sophia cannot back out of the marriage without ruining her family.
Things become more complicated when they attend the theater. Sophia finds out that Dev is Harold’s cousin and Dudley attempts to make trouble. Thankfully, Rhoda has attended with them and steps in. Harold seems agitated and tells Sophia they are moving up the wedding. Sophia is feeling desperate and when they return home, her stepfather tells her that she already signed the license and cannot back out – basically she is already married.
Dev talks to Harold and learns that he tricked Sophia, she doesn’t know the real reason he needs to marry her, he feels badly about it, but says it is too late, the license is signed.
Dev sends Sophia a message via Rhoda and asks her to meet him. When they meet, he tells her that Harold doesn’t want to marry her and that they are forming a plan to end the marriage. Sophia blurts out that she loves Dev, he is touched by her admission and asks her to trust him.
Sophia tries to speak to Harold, but the opportunity doesn’t arise until the night before the wedding. She asks him if it is true that he is in love with another and he nods, but they are interrupted before she can question him further. She dances with Dev and again he tells her to trust him.
The wedding takes place and on her wedding night, Sophia learns the truth about Harold. She returns to her room and tries to take in what she has witnessed, confused and restless, she decides to sneak down to the kitchen for something to eat. She ends up trapped and needs to be rescued again. Dev finds her and once he frees her, takes her to her room. He brings her something to eat and they talk. She tells him that knows about Harold and Dev tells her that they have a plan. She thinks he means annulment and begins to cry, she tells him that it won’t work because she is not a virgin – she was raped by Dudley. Dev calms her and tells her that the plan is not annulment. Harold will fake his own death and go into hiding with his lover. Then they can marry. Dev then repeats the marriage vows to Sophia and they make love.
The next day, Harold and Sophia leave for the family’s country estate. They talk and over the course of a few days, they form a true friendship. Sophia is worried about the plan and tells Harold that they can find another way – but Harold is firm in his resolve to carry through with the plan.
They carry out the plan and then are overcome with guilt for the pain it causes the family. Dev leaves the estate and promises Sophia that they will be together, they just need to let some time pass. But when tragedy strikes again, can their love be enough to overcome the guilt they feel?
I like this story, but I did have some issues – One there is adultery, I don’t care that they didn’t want to marry, I don’t care that they didn’t consummate it – they took vows, they are married and they sleep with other people – that is adultery. Two, the whole marriage license angle is questionable and frankly, unbelievable, but I can chalk that up to creative license by the author for the sake of the story. This was an incredibly emotional story and the cost for their HEA is extremely high and frankly, I was not satisfied with how it played out. I did believe that Dev and Sophia were in love, but I don’t know if I believe their love was worth the pain it caused so many others. I would recommend this book, but be warned, it is not an easy read. It is well written and flows nicely, but it is an emotional rollercoaster and you might want to have some tissues at the ready.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by the author*
“Harold’s touch never had caused these sensations. It hadn’t even come close. She hummed under her breath and at the same time reflected upon the rare intimate gestures her fiancé had bestowed upon her.
He’d occasionally kissed her hand. Well, he’d kissed the air above her hand. He had never quite placed his lips upon her skin, or her glove, to actually kiss it, per se.
And on a few instances, he’d courteously offered his arm while they strolled through the park.
Rarely had she found herself alone with Lord Harold. Why, truth be told, aside from his formal proposal, they were never alone together!
And very soon, the privacy she shared with this heroic rake would be stripped away as well. The tip of his tongue flicked inside of her ear now. And the captain was whispering something about an introduction.
“May I call upon you some afternoon, Miss Babineaux? Take you for a ride in the park, perhaps?” His breath felt hot in her ear. “If you require a formal introduction, I’m certain I can arrange something.”
She could barely respond, however, for all of the confusion flitting about her mind.
Harold was so very different from this impertinent captain.
Good heavens! It had taken Lord Harold nearly two Seasons to ask for a dance. She’d been particularly flattered when he’d told her this.
Captain Brookes lacked such patience, it would seem. Yes, this delicious man was likely considered something of a rake. His expert touch revealed that he knew exactly how to do… all of this. No, nothing shy about him.
She probably ought to mention that she was, in fact, spoken for.
Yes, she really ought to… And she ought to thank him for his assistance…
“Although he will most likely be grateful for your aiding my rescue…” Sophia spoke into his shirtfront. Oh, how his hair felt ever so soft and springy! “…I doubt my fiancé would approve of this.”
“You’re here!” Until that moment, she’d not known how fearful she’d been that he would fail her.
She had trusted him… but just as she’d trusted her stepbrother… her stepfather… her mother… and Lord Harold… well, she’d grown wary of disappointment.
He stopped, for just a moment, and peered under her umbrella. “Where else would I be?”
This waltz had originally been claimed by another, but Devlin would settle for no less. He’d erased the name and written in his own.
He needed to touch her. To hold her.
He pulled her close, perhaps closer than he ought. “Ah, Sophia,” he whispered. “Trust me?”
A LITTLE ABOUT ME…
Married to the same man for over 25 years, I am a mother to three children and two Miniature Wiener dogs After owning a business and experiencing considerable success, my husband and I got caught in the financial crisis and lost everything; our business, our home, even our car.
At this point, I put my B.A. in Poly Sci to use and took work as a waitress and bartender. Unwilling to give up on a professional life, I simultaneously went back to college and obtained a degree in Energy Management.
And then the energy market dropped off.
And then my dog died.
I can only be grateful for this series of unfortunate events, for, with nothing to lose and completely demoralized, I sat down and began to write the romance novels which had until then, existed only my imagination.
I am happy to have found my place in life.
Where you can find me!
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