Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Lords of Chance #3
Release Date: November 11, 2019
Graham Laithe, Earl of Rayne is back from New York to give his sister Clarissa away in marriage to Lord Markham. He has been gone for a year and a half, but has no intentions of staying, he just wants to take care of estate details and return to America. He left suddenly and under a cloud, his long friendships with Markham and Bromton seemly over and his relationship with Farring strained. But the thing that truly haunts him and has kept him away is Markham’s sister, Lady Julia Stanley. The woman who declared she loved him and whose kiss changed him – the woman he can never have.
Julia had worked hard to put her broken heart back together and to forget Rayne, but now he is back and all those feelings come rushing back. But it is clear he doesn’t want her – or does he? With a little meddling by Farring and a bit of daring by Julia, she will find out one way or the other if there is a future for them.
Farring wheedles Rayne into delivering the carriage to his step-grandmother, the dowager duchess, at her estate – Periwinkle Gate and while he would rather not, Farring is the only one of his friends who hasn’t turned on him and besides, he really likes the dowager duchess. He agrees and sets off. But Farring isn’t done – he convinces Julia to tag along – disguised as a footman. He tells her that Rayne has feelings for her, but doesn’t feel worthy, if Julia loves him, as Farring believes she does, she needs to go with him and convince him that their love is worth fighting for.
All goes well at first, but when weather turns bad and Julia is discovered sooner than she hoped, Rayne has to decide – keep her with him or send her home. She tells him that she is going to Scotland to elope and gives him the first name that pops in her head – Viscount Belhaven, her former governess’s lost love. Rayne is gentle with Julia that first night, caring for her and making sure she is warmed. He agrees to take her with him to Periwinkle Gate and hopes that he can keep his feelings for her in check. For her part, Julia wants Rayne, she has always wanted Rayne, but as an innocent, she is not prepared for his raw sexuality and is a little frighten by the feelings he invokes in her. But, as they travel, she becomes convinced that they are meant to be, but is having a hard time convincing Rayne.
Finally, they reach Periwinkle Gate and finally they give into the sexual tension that has been simmering between them and Rayne asks her to marry him – YES! They set out for Gretna Green, but before they even wed, her lies are revealed and Rayne begins to close himself off from her. And when her family finally catches up with them, it seems like their HEA will be over before it even begins.
This was a well written, complex story of second chances. Rayne is a tortured soul with a tendency to brood, while Julia is a happy soul with a knack for seeing the bright side. They are proof that opposites attract and have the potential to have soulmate type love story – that is if Rayne can get out of his own way and Julia doesn’t give up. I really enjoyed this story, it was a bit heavier than I expected, but not depressing or dark and I did feel like Rayne’s poor self-worth issues dragged a little too long, but in the end, I was happy with the outcome, liked the characters, delighted in the steamy love scenes and I am now even more anxious to read Farring’s story than I was before!! This is the third book in the series and while it could be read as a stand-alone, this is an interconnected series and for maximum enjoyment and character understanding, I would recommend reading the books in order.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*