After reading Maire Claremont's THE DARK LADY, I needed a palate cleanser to wash down the angst. I looked at my virtual to-read pile and selected THE SINS OF LORD LOCKWOOD by Meredith Duran because the title promised sexy times and the cheeky lady on the cover promised saucy adventures. Well, I was right about the sexy times, but wrong about the saucy adventures - this book turned out to be just as dark and angsty as THE DARK LADY, if not more so. I was tricked, gosh darn it! Tricked!
Dastardly tricks aside, however, I really enjoyed reading THE SINS OF LORD LOCKWOOD, in no small part because it revolves around a dark revenge plot that appears inspired by THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO. Liam and Anna were engaged to be married. On paper, it was a union of convenience - he is an impoverished earl, and she is a rich countess heiress who wants to keep her freedom and her properties. However, they had an understanding and affection for one another that transcended what they were bringing to the table. Or at least, that's what Anna thought...until he ditches her on their honeymoon.
As it turns out, Liam was held captive and tortured in unspeakably cruel ways for reasons that become clear as the plot unravels. Scarred and stricken with PTSD, he is no longer the naive and untouched rake his wife fell in love with, and he's rather cruel to her in his efforts to push her aside and keep from opening up to her in his feverish attempts to destroy the person who would have destroyed him, if he hadn't been able to fight his way out of hell and return back to England.
Once I realized what kind of story I was reading (note: not a light-hearted frothy wallpaper historical), I quickly got on board. I love me a good tortured hero, and Liam was exceptionally well done. Sometimes I roll my eyes at "tortured heroes" in romance novels, because their misery is entirely manufactured and completely idiotic, i.e. "I'm just too manly to have feelings, dammit! How do I tell her that she's not like other women?" This was not like that at all, and while Big Misunderstandings often have me wanting to jump ship, it actually worked here because Liam was suffering and slow to trust and Anna was stubborn and prideful.
If you're a romance reader, you're probably nodding along impatiently and thinking to yourself, "Yes, that's all well and good, but what about the chemistry? What about the sexy times?" As a romance reader myself, I salute you. Also, you won't be disappointed. The sexy times aren't only steamy, they're a little kinky, as well (and the heroine's WTF IS GOING ON reaction was priceless).
A lot of historical romances coming out these days feel interchangeable but Meredith Duran has a signature style that I really enjoy and is quickly becoming a fast favorite with me. The stories I've read from her pack an emotional wallop and she's not afraid to take the narrative down a few dark alleys to keep things interesting.
Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!
3.5 out of 5 stars