Series: Mad Passions #3
Published by Signet on March 4, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance
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The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor ...
Lady Margaret Cassidy left a life of nobility behind in Ireland, forsaking her grieving homeland to aid war-ravaged men in England. Still, she never expected a cruel turn of fate to lock her into an unwanted betrothal with one of her English patients—much less one as broken and dangerous as Viscount Powers.
Wrecked by his tragic past, Powers’ opiate-addled sanity hangs precariously in the balance, leaving him poised to destroy anyone who dares to utter the names of the wife and child he still so deeply mourns. So when he is forced to marry Margaret in exchange for freedom, he is shocked by the desire to earn her trust, her body, and—most alarming of all—her heart .
Betsy: The Dark Affair is the latest book in Claremont’s Mad Passions Series, which explores the darker side of romance in Victorian Era England.
We meet our characters in a very unusual place, an asylum akin to Bedlam. Lord James Stanhope is in the throes of mania induced by abuse of opium and alcohol. Margaret, who he insists on calling Maggie, a nurse and Irish noblewoman, has been hired by James’ father to help bring James back to sanity and take up the reins as his heir. A deliciously dark and interesting beginning.
At first glance, I was immediately drawn to Lord James. He is desperately sad, filled with shame and guilt. His self-destructive behavior has led to his being tied to a bed in a madhouse, and when he is lucid, he is clearly distraught about this and not the least inclined to be cooperative about it. Until he realizes that cooperation may be his only chance to escape.
Maggie is a very competent, buttoned-up young woman. She cloaks herself in a mantle of self-righteousness. But under the surface her emotions roil. Her stony exterior is one giant wall of self-protection. This young woman has seen it all: the horrors of famine in Ireland, and then war in the Crimea and its appalling aftermath. She comes out of the chrysalis determined to do something to make a difference. She recognizes Lord James’ suffering and takes on this project with relentless determination.
What complicates this effort is the very strong attraction these two have for each other despite their equally strong resistance to it. The intense UST build between them is powerful and carefully built throughout the story. This is no insta-love romance. They both have obstacles to overcome, but the eventual resolution is both satisfying and ungodly steamy, hot, ______(insert your favorite superlative here).
There are misunderstandings, miscommunications, an unexpected marriage, incipient Irish terrorism, kidnapping, and so much more. It is a rough, exciting and ultimately rewarding ride. I enjoyed the dark psychological profiles of two damaged people who resurrect themselves and find joy and solace in each other.
I really enjoyed this atmospheric story and I can’t wait to read more of her work.