Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: Escape with a Scoundrel #3
Release Date: January 21, 2020
This installment of the Escape with a Scoundrel series was originally a 1993 release titled “Silver and Sapphires” and was part of the D’Avenant Brothers Series – So, if you read if the aforementioned title – prepare to be shocked and awed! This is a completely revised and revamped edition and while the story is basically the same, the characters have completely changed (for the better).
Ashiana de Canto e Calda is the adopted daughter of the Maharaja of the Ajmir Clan. Her English mother died when she was a baby and her Portuguese father was slain before her by English pirates seeking the Nine Sapphires of Kashmir. Ashiana has been raised as a Ajmir Princess and is betrothed to the Maharaja’s son Rao. She has a deep and abiding hatred for the English and longs to fit in with the Ajmir clan. So when her adopted father tells her the truth of the Sapphires and asks for her help retrieving the stolen gem she agrees without a moment of hesitation.
Lord Saxon D’Avenant’s late father was a scoundrel, the Duke of Silverton, stole a sacred sapphire from the clan of Ajmir and brought a curse down on the family. Saxon was the duke’s the second son and was charged with breaking the curse that killed his father and threatens the life of his youngest brother. He must reunite the stolen gem with the other eight stones and he has spent the last ten years of his life trying to do just that and it has cost him much. His latest attempt nearly killed him and gave his enemy, the Earl of Greyslake the opportunity to destroy him – by killing the woman Saxon married. When Saxon’s brother Julian finds him, Saxon is on the brink of losing himself. Julian refuses to let him give up and tells him of a way to finally break the curse. They will attend an event that the Maharaja will be at and hopefully learn where the sapphires are hidden. But it is not the Maharaja who attends the gathering – it is a harem girl. Saxon is horrified to find himself attracted to the girl, he tries to ignore the awareness between them and when his host gives him the girl as a gift, he wants to refuse, but Julian convinces him to accept and to see what he can learn from the girl.
Ashiana is also stunned by the attraction she feels towards the Englishman and when she meets with him later, she almost falls under his seductive spell and forgets her mission. She is tempted by him, but recalls her hatred and drugs him, steals the sapphire he wears in a pouch around his neck, but she can’t kill him or leave him to die. She ensures his safety and takes her leave – planning to meet with a clansman to take her away. But before she make her escape, she is caught by Julian, she lies and says Saxon told her to collect her belongings and he would take her with him when he leaves. Julian believes her and insists on taking her to Saxon’s ship – much to her dismay!
To say that Saxon was less than pleased to be reunited with Ashiana would be a huge understatement. But he knows she is the key to breaking the curse and vows to learn her secrets, find the sapphires and fulfill his duty to his family. And Ashiana is equally determined to outwit Saxon and stop him from finding the sapphires, no matter what the cost.
This was truly an epic tale, it is well written and it flows wonderfully but it did have a very strong late-80’s bodice ripper vibe (albeit a toned down version). I enjoyed this story, it is not your typical Georgian romance, this story is filled with action, adventure, deception, secrets, more lies, steamy love scenes, shipwrecks, abductions, sacrifice, betrayal, heartache, wonderful characters, priceless gems, a tiger and a very hard-won HEA. I must mention that despite the author’s effort to rewrite this story to appeal to a more modern audience and for the most part being successful – there is one sex scene in the book that might be offensive to sensitive readers – it is not rape or even “forced seduction” – but it might be upsetting nonetheless. I, personally, was not offended and although it did not endear me to Saxon, it did not ruin the story for me. This is the third book in the series, but the books are not connected and can be read as stand-alone titles. I liked this book and would be happy to recommend it with the notation that there is a scene that might upset more sensitive readers.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me.*