Most of my friends know I love, live and breathe paranormal romance. My bookshelves are full of series and favourite authors who write in this genre - Nalini Singh, Larissa Ione, Joss Ware, Jacqueline Frank, Angela Knight, J.R.Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Joey W.Hill, Denise Rossetti...the list goes on and on...
So, when I tell you I can count the number of historical romance authors I've read and enjoyed on one hand, you'll understand why I'm posting a review about this debut author's book.
I read Bronwen Evans' debut historical romance, INVITATION TO RUIN, in a day. I'd only intended reading a few chapters during my lunch break, but I ended up reading it well into the afternoon and then evening. What did I find so appealing about it?
It wasn't the story line, although I did enjoy the grittier, darker elements within it.
It wasn't the historical period; I'm afraid I wouldn't know if Ms.Evans portrayed her world accurately or not simply because I'm not an aficionado of that time period.
It wasn't the style of her writing, although I certainly enjoyed it and going back over sections of it (after I finished it) to analyse how she constructed various scenes.
Quite simply, it was the characters. They engaged me.
The Lord of Wicked - Anthony Craven - is a true tortured hero. I loved that he wasn't an overbearing alpha character. Without giving away any spoilers, this hero's tormented childhood left him determined not to care about anyone, to hide his emotion from everyone and to ease the pain of his past through the pursuit of pleasure rather than love. No emotion, no connection, no advantage given.
He was taught that to show any of the softer emotions was a weakness. So, watching his transformation from a hard, cold, almost ruthless rake into one who recognises that love strengthens instead of weakens was an experience that, as a reader, left me very satisfied. It was extremely well done and entirely believable.
I also found Miss Melissa Goodly a refreshing heroine, not quite what I expected in an historical heroine (you can probably blame my ignorance and instinctive stereotypical mind-set for that). She's a woman of strong convictions, opinionated, worldly-wise in some ways and innocent in others, passionate and vulnerable without being over the top. A lovely balance of conflicting qualities.
Phillip Drake is the quintessential villain. You were pretty much rooting for his demise from the first scene you witnessed him in. What I found fascinating about him was his past. I kept wanting to know what made this man like he was. Again without giving away any spoilers, Evans' explains this in snippets throughout the book. The tie between the hero and the villain deepens the connection I felt for these characters - good, bad and ugly.
The way she explained what made each man who he is left me thinking about how the events of our pasts shape what we are now and how we act or conduct ourselves, and this was especially true of Craven and Drake.
I put down the book knowing that I'd just spent several hours reading something that left me feeling satisfied and entertained.
Everything a good book should do.
INVITATION TO RUIN
The only thing Miss Melissa Goodly has ever wanted out of a marriage is love. But any hope of that dissolves one wild night, when she loses herself in the arms of the most irresistible-and unobtainable-man in all of England. For when they are discovered in a position as compromising as it is pleasurable, she has no choice but to accept his proposal.
Avowed bachelor Anthony Craven, Earl of Wickham, never meant to seduce an innocent like Melissa. Yet now that the damage is done, it does seem like she'd make a very convenient wife. After all, she is so naive he won't have to worry about ever being tempted. Or so he thinks, until the vows are spoken and they are left alone-and his new bride reveals a streak just as brazen and unrestrained as his own...