Illicit Love by Jane Lark

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Ellen Harding longs to be free of the life she is trapped in – her husband died at the battle of Waterloo and her family disowned her and now she lives under the reign of a cruel protector. When her eyes are drawn to a beautiful man for no other reason than his looks, she imagines escaping her chains for a night by giving her body to him – to a man of her choosing – even if only to infuriate her captor.

But Edward Marlow is kind and gentle when he touches her and her subconscious whispers that this man could save her. Yet how can he help her when she has secrets which prevent her ever being free. She has too many battles to fight.

Edward is restless, lonely and a little angry with his lot in life – it is his only excuse for being drawn to another man’s mistress. The woman’s dark hair and pale eyes are striking and he cannot take his gaze off of her while she watches him over the top of a fan with an illicit intent in her eyes. But once he’s known her he cannot forget her – and once he’s seen how brutal her protector is, how can leave her with the man? But she will not run anymore than she will speak of her past, so how can he help her…

Publisher and Release Date: Sapphire Star Publishing, 2 May 2013
RHL Classifications:
Time and Setting: London, 1820s
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Vikki

This story starts out with a card game gone bad, when Edward Marlow catches Lord Gainsborough cheating. Rather than challenge him to a duel, Edward demands two hours with Lord Gainsborough’s mistress, Ellen Harding. Since everyone watching saw the cards fall out of his sleeve, Lord Gainsborough must accept Edward’s demand.

After a couple of hours of intense passion, Edward cannot stop thinking about Ellen. He haunts Gainsborough’s townhouse because he’s obsessed. He needs to figure out why Ellen would be with this much older man. Night after night he returns to the gaming hell, searching for her. Finally he’s rewarded when Ellen shows up on Gainsborough’s arm.

Ellen is trapped in an untenable situation in that Gainsborough is blackmailing her to make her stay with him. After her night with Edward, she longs to be in his arms again. He was such a tender lover, and she’d never experienced such passion before, since none of her previous encounters were through choice.

When they meet again, Edward sees her bruises and realizes Ellen is a victim. She’s not with Gainsborough because she wants to be, she’s with him because he must have some kind of hold over her. Can Edward save her from Gainsborough’s evil intent? Or must he forget her and let her go?

I enjoyed this compelling story of an unlikely love match. The pacing was excellent and I never became bored in the middle as I do with some books. The characters came to life on the first page of the story and kept me turning the pages to the very end. I love a book that evokes strong emotion and this one definitely did that.

had a few issues with some elements of the story which affected my final grade. For example, the author made Edward a lord, yet he was a second son of an earl which would have made him a mister, not a lord. I also didn’t get a strong sense of the time period. Ellen’s husband died in the Battle of Waterloo and her son is ten, so that would make it around the mid-1820s, yet some of the author’s descriptions of Ellen’s garments were from an earlier period of history. Other than the reference to the battle, this book could have been set in any time period. I like a bit more detail about the time period when I’m reading a book set in a historical setting, even if it is a romance.

2 thoughts on “Illicit Love by Jane Lark

  1. Lovely review. Sounds like a very intriguing book. It also has very good reviews on goodreads and amazon.

    It always bugs me when authors (usually American, but this author is English) screw up titles. It’s so easy to find out the proper use of titles with just a little googling.

    Nevertheless, I’m going to try it!

  2. Hi Vikki, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Re the title, Edward would have officially been known as The Honourable Edward Marlow rather than Mister. But as that was too much of a mouthful, I admit to using a bit of naughty poetic licence for the purpose of fiction, and bumped him up rather than down… Sorry to annoy you :) I much prefer the sound of it in the story though. Funnily enough I’ve already written his first son’s story and it spins out of the fact he is only a Mister, among his first born cousins, who are Lords, but there’s a few more books between this one and that one. 😀

    I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Robert’s (Edward’s brother’s) story is coming out on 7th November and if you are on Net Galley it’ll be on there to download for a couple of weeks for reviewers – There’s no poetic licence with his title 😉

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