Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: The Survivors #10
Publication Date: 6/15/21
This book is fast-paced, interesting, and adventurous while easily entwining romance and love with danger and suspense. I read it through in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down – so imagine my bleary eyes at 7:30 AM when I finally read the last word. The characters are compelling, interesting, strong, complex, and absolutely perfect for each other. We met and got to know Rowden Payne in book 9 of the series, Sweet Rogue of Mine, when Rowden helped his fellow survivor, Nash Pope, find his way back from the dark abyss in which he’d been living. We actually have two romances in this book – one between Rowden and Modesty and another between Rowden’s manager, Chibale Okoro, and a French modiste, Therese Renauld. The main romance, of course, is between Rowden and Modesty, but Chibale and Therese’s story takes up quite a bit of real estate in the story as well.
Since being disinherited by his father, a duke, Rowden Payne has earned his living as the pugilist known as the Royal Payne. It pleases Rowden that his success as a pugilist rankles his father, and Royal Payne just adds to that. Rowden may be large, strong, handsome, and a celebrated war hero, but he is also one of the nicest and most caring people we’ll meet. It will make your heart hurt to learn that he will never marry and have a family of his own. He’s so lonesome and in need of a family since he no longer has the one into which he was born.
Modesty Brown is the daughter of a very strict, uptight, puritanical preacher, Samuel Brown. After losing her mother around the age of five, Modesty had no one except her father. She idolized both of her parents and did her very best to emulate them in all facets of her life. She was obedient and dutiful as any good daughter should be. How could she be otherwise when her father was perfect? Or is he?
The meeting between Rowden and Modesty is priceless. He’s seconds away from winning a lucrative match when he is distracted by a group of religious zealots who march into the audience shouting and urging the attendees to repent and leave that evil place. He’s distracted by the riveting eyes on the young woman in the group – but only for a second – that second, however, is all it takes to get him knocked out.
Somehow, Modesty keeps intruding into his life and while he knows he should just refuse to help her, he can’t do that. He refuses to love her – he certainly won’t marry her – but he’ll do all in his power to keep her safe when her father disappears.
At the same time, Rowden is doing his best to avoid Modesty, his manager, Chibale, is actively pursuing a popular French modiste, Therese. Chibale is a great character and I liked him very much. His grandfather emigrated from Africa to England before Chibale’s father was born. His parents are lovely people and they have raised a loving family while running a successful imported spice business. Chibale is smart, articulate, confident, and very caring. Therese has a sad history that she left behind in France and doesn’t trust men. However, Chibale is such a caring man – so attentive and loving toward his sister – how could she not come to respect – and even care for him.
When both Modesty and Therese are threatened by the same evil, Rowden and Chibale will each do all they can to save the ladies.
I absolutely loved the book and highly recommend it. You can’t go wrong with two romances, wonderful characters, and exciting, dangerous adventures. I felt Chibale and Therese’s romance took time and development away from Rowden and Modesty. I understand the current requirement that every book have some sort of racial or sexual preference segment in it. However, I would have loved to see Chibale and Therese in their own novella. That would have allowed further development of each of the characters and their romance. I think the author did an outstanding job with the combination of romances, but I was left wanting more of each of them. I would also have loved to see some hint of a softening in Rowden’s father as well.
Bottom line – it is a wonderful read and you absolutely cannot go wrong by reading it.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.