Halfway through this book I was saying to anyone who would listen (mostly just my cats) that this was my ultimate romance!!!!
The BEST love story. Evah. It had everything I require in a hero: angsty(oh, the angst!), driven, controlled, tortured past yet sensitive and kind... and quite a lovely heroine too- endearingly prim and sweet and full of the nonsense that being brought up by a bunch of well meaning elderly Victorian ladies would bring.
I loved how, for the first quarter of the book we get to know Samuel through flashbacks from the time he was rescued by Lady Tess as a young boy. Those were so exquisitely written that even though I had not read the first in the series, The Hidden Heart, I cried for the sheer poignancy of it, the utter tragedy of a broken child so desperate to be loved and accepted. The character of Samuel was so well developed and real and totally adorable - he has become one of my favourite heroes of all time.
Here's where the but comes in, because, sadly, there is one. Somewhere along the line, Leda, the heroine, began to annoy. I understand that many of her mannerisms where simply covering up her insecurities - and she had many reasons to feel insecure. But I wanted more directness and depth from her- I wanted less inane chatter and bossiness and more evidence of the stuff that makes Samuel fall in love with her. Because, although we know he is in lust he spends most of the book being in love with another woman.
I hoped she would ease up on some of her prissy, by-the-rulebook Victorian ways and relax more. As an earlier reviewer suggested, an epilogue would have been a wonderful thing.
This is a four and a half out of five for me.