So, what’s the book about? Here’s the blurb:
Tortured duke Gibb Alford has vowed never to love again… until a beautiful French knife thrower brings him to his knees
When Gibb Alford, Duke of Menteith, saves a beautiful French knife thrower from the unwanted attentions of a fellow aristocrat he is ill-prepared for the immediate tug of attraction to the beautiful Evangeline. Widowed, he has sworn off love forever, so he can well do without this temptation.
Evangeline certainly doesn’t want the complication of being in the sights of one smoky-eyed Scottish Duke. She’s a lady on a mission, with no time for love or dalliance.
However, fate and life have other plans and gradually Gibb and Evangeline become a couple.
As each struggle with the demons of their pasts, Evangeline finds life in the ton difficult. The spurned aristocrat Gibb saved her from, is not prepared to give in and retire gracefully. And while Gibb fights the man, he also declares war on his own emotions. When Evangeline’s past is revealed to her, everything changes. She has a decision to make.
Fight for Gibb—or flee to a safe but unfulfilled future.
As for her Duke… All is fair in love and war—right?
Full disclosure: I never normally read romance or erotic fiction but, I confess, this sounded a fun read, so I went for it.
There’s none of your soppy female romantic leads here. Evangeline can kick ass as well as anyone else. I love that she doesn’t need Gibb at all, and is forging a life that doesn’t need a man in it. But as we all know, love tends to strike when it’s least expected.
The problem is, Gibb is a complicated man – he doesn’t only not need a woman, he is absolutely sworn off them.
These two strong, fiercely independent characters dance around each other, trying to convince each other and themselves that they have no romantic interest in the other. It makes for fun and compelling reading.
Set in Victorian London, there’s enough chivalry, sexy period costume, and horse and carriages to satisfy your fancy. The brilliance is in McAllan’s choices to make Evangeline much more independently minded than would have been socially acceptable in that era, and to have Gibb much more muscley than a member of the aristocracy would have been. This makes the characters very relatable.
Oozing with sexual tension, this book cleverly avoids cringe-y overtly sexual descriptions instead, it teases with suggestion, leaving much to the imagination. Spot on.
This was a fun read, and a great way to escape a hard day of work. Recommended guilty pleasure reading.
Here’s an extract (with the author’s permission) to give you a flavour:
“So be it.”
They let the horses make the pace as they moved on in companionable silence. Overhead a skein of geese flew low to settle on the lake with a great deal of noise and fluttering of wings. Evangeline looked at them as they began to glide elegantly across the surface of the lake, creating ripples on the otherwise still surface of the water. “It must be good to be able to roam at will,” she said. “To know if this place becomes too hot or too quiet, you can move on without any ties or worries.”
“Except for being shot and ending up as someone’s dinner,” Gibb said.
Evangeline rolled her eyes. “Oh, trust you. Now all my illusions are spoiled. I will never look at geese again without thinking of fruit sauce.”
“Sorry,” he said and sounded not the least bit repentant. “Did you never eat goose in France?”
“It was out of our orbit. We managed on fish, if we had caught them, eggs when the hens were laying, chicken when they stopped and of course vegetables. I always thought geese so majestic and so free and now you tell me their ending is for our stomachs. One more misapprehension solved.” She laughed. “Not true of course, but it is a good thought, eh?”
Gibb inclined his head. “Indubitably. But, my dear, this is life as we know it. One person’s freedom is the other person’s prison. Freedom is but an illusion for everyone and everything.”
“You are a cynic,” Evangeline observed as a moorhen squawked and swam through the reeds.
Gibb nodded in agreement. “Now, let us talk of nicer things.”
“Ah, now you have me. You decide.”
“My extravaganza next week at Vauxhall? Will you be there?”
“Of course.” He sounded amazed she even needed to ask.
Evangeline wondered why. After all, nothing was certain.
“I have bespoken a box,” Gibb continued. “Where we will take supper.”
“We will?” She was surprised by his assertion. “Won’t people talk?”
“Perhaps,” he said with indifference. “But as they are talking already, I see no reason why we should not enjoy a good supper after your act. As long as you do not pick me for your victim.”
Evangeline sniggered as she shook her head. She might not want to be the center of attraction in any way except on stage, but gossip was inevitable. “I wouldn’t dare single you out for that. I prefer someone more aware of themselves and not in a good way.”
“Someone whose ego you can deflate a little?” Gibb suggested and she laughed. “That’s an idea,” he continued. “Can I give you a list, do you think? It would be a long one, though, and difficult to decide who should head it.”
“No need, I have one up here.” She tapped her head. “I just have to look at some people and know they will suit.” They angled down a side track and the horses picked up their pace into a decorous canter, which still left Evangeline able to speak and know Gibb could hear and respond if he wished. “And some I steer clear of.”
“Have you ever hit anyone by mistake?” Gibb asked as the horses lengthened their strides a little. “Even a nick?”
“Not ever by mistake, although I have purported to have done so,” Evangeline admitted with a wry smile. “I will name no names but say retribution was oh so satisfying. The couchon had tried to interfere with the young daughter of someone I admire, who is a friend. I did nothing more than graze his staff and slice his leg. Before he said anything to me the father of the girl threatened to do a better job. I believe the bastard went to the Indies and stayed there.”
“Best place,” Gibb said stonily. “For if anyone of honor found out his fate would have been worse. Much worse.”
“Says the man who professes not to care about others.”
“I seem to have forced that attitude into the background at times. That would have been one of them.” They had circled the track around the lake and began to walk their horses back toward Bruton Street. “When I see injustice done, I feel beholden to try and reverse it. But that is not personal, it is on behalf of my sex or standing. I sometimes am ashamed I am a man and a peer.”
“Women can also behave as bad,” Evangeline remarked. “It is a sad state of affairs that most people do not believe it to be so. Me? I know so. As I work I see things that people do not realize. To them I am part of the furniture.”
“What do you do if you see injustice?” Gibb asked with interest. “Apart from throwing a knife at whoever is the cause of it.”
She laughed bleakly. “Make sure someone in authority finds out. Often it is a young gentleman’s mama who receives the news. There is no one better to put the fear of God into a young imbecile.”
“Then I commend you.”
Raven’s bio and nosy links
Well what can I say?
I’m growing old disgracefully and loving it.
Dh and I live on the edge of a Scottish forest, and rattle around in a house much too big for us.
Our kids have grown up and flown the nest, but roll back up when they want to take a deep breath and smell the daisies so to speak.
I write in my study, which overlooks the garden and the lane. I’m often seen procrastinating, by checking out the wild life, looking—only looking—at the ironing basket and assuring tourists that indeed, I’m not the bed and breakfast. That would mean cooking fried eggs without breaking the yolks, and disturbing the dust bunnies as they procreate under the beds. Not to be thought of.
Being able to do what I love, and knowing people get pleasure from my writing is fantastic. Long may it last.
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