Lady Mary Darrel should be the envy of London. Instead, all society believes her dead. For Mary holds a secret so dangerous, her father chose to keep her locked away…and have a grave made for her near her mother’s. Driven to the edge of desperation, Mary manages to escape the asylum, only to find that her fate yet again rests in the hands of a man…
Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, longs for some way to escape the torment of his father’s crimes. In Mary’s warrior spirit and haunted gaze—which so mirrors his own—he finally sees his path to redemption. He will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even as she seeks revenge. But will the passion they discover in each other be enough to save them from their demons?
Publisher and release date: Signet, 1 October, 2013
Time and setting: Victorian England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer rating: 4 stars
Review Maria Almaguer
Attention Bronte sisters’ fans, this book is for you. Lady in Red is a very dark story set in Victorian England and explores themes of revenge, addiction, murder, and violence against women. As in all historical romances, it does have a happy ending, thank goodness.
This is a very well written and dramatic story with plenty of passionate and emotional scenes. The central love story between Mary and Edward is won only after a lot of angst. I liked both characters but especially Edward. He is very sweet and protective of Mary yet he admires her desire to survive. Mary is a fighter determined to exact revenge on her father, the man who killed her mother. Both had to overcome the demons of their truly miserable pasts; they help each other heal. That said, there is only one sex scene and it actually had some humor to it, a welcome relief in this intense book.
However, the love story is not the only thing going on in this book. Along the way, we meet Mary’s horrible and powerful father, the Duke of Duncliffe, who, after enslaving his wife and daughter, remarries only to begin the abuse cycle once again; and his allies – a deadly assassin as well as the evil matron of the asylum, Mrs. Palmer. There is also the sardonic Viscount Powers, Edward’s opium-addicted friend who teaches Mary to knife fight but also carries a torch for her and is ready to step in should Edward change his mind. And then there are the insidious abuses at the asylum from where Mary escaped and a revenge murder scene involving Yvonne, Mary’s dead mother’s friend. Like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Wuthering Heights by her sister, Emily, the story is rich in melodrama, terror, tension, and a melancholy mood and setting throughout; it’s the dark side of the Victorian era. Claremont captures all of this well in a colorfully vivid writing style evocative of the gothic romance.