The Dark Affair by Maire Claremont

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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….

Publisher and Release Date: Penguin Group, March 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: London, 1866
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2.5 Stars
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 Stars

Review by Lady Blue

James Stanhope, Viscount Powers, has been unable to cope with the pain in his life since his beloved wife and daughter died. He gets through his days and nights by using opium, hard drinking and fighting, relishing the physical pain he endures, as it temporarily blocks his emotional pain. But lately, he has gone on such a downward spiral, that his father has him institutionalized. In the year 1866, asylums were places of horror instead of healing. He is kept drugged on morphine, which only feeds his addiction. In a desperate effort to help him, his father enlists the services of Margaret Cassidy, who has been successful in treating wounded soldiers.

Margaret is actually the daughter of an Irish earl who lived through the famine in Ireland, but watched her parents and countless others suffer and die. She now helps those she can, but is living in near poverty, and has built up her own emotional walls. Her younger brother has also fled Ireland, but he is a wanted criminal. He committed a murder, and is now in England, associating with Irish terrorists. He tries to recruit Margaret to the cause, but she refuses.

James’ father seems to know everything about everything. He knows about Margaret’s brother, and he comes up with a scheme that will save him. The price is that Margaret must marry James and produce an heir. Margaret is desperate, and accepts. They remove James from the asylum, take him home, and the two are married.

This is a painful story. Addiction is cruel, and hard to beat. Couple that with the emotional pain, and you have to wonder if James can possibly recover. And despite her outward poise and seeming calmness, Margaret (“Maggie”)is suffering as well. In the beginning, Maggie annoys and angers James, yet he enjoys her presence, feels more alive and eventually he even begins to feel hope again.

As they slowly take one step forward and two steps back, they become attracted, then fall in love. But it’s a painful and heartbreaking journey. Once James is recovering, Maggie needs to face her own demons if they are to have any chance of a happy life together. All the obstacles they overcome make this a very sweet ending.

This is not a feel-good read, but it’s a powerful and wonderful one. This is the third book in Maire Claremont’s Mad Passions series. You will definitely feel uplifted by the end of the book. I highly recommend it, and the others in the series.

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