The first wedding night that Lady Juliana St. Albans spent with the dark and daring Rhys Vaughan was intoxicating, the heady culmination of her new husband’s driving hunger and her own awakened sensuality. When he mysteriously disappeared the next morning, she waited for him in hope and desperation. And when he was finally proclaimed dead in a shipwreck, she bitterly mourned the loss of her love.
The second wedding night that Juliana spent with Rhys Vaughan was six years later, after he returned to claim her just as she was about to wed another. This Rhys was different—bolder, harder, and convinced that she’d betrayed him. Only their blazing passion remains from their years apart. But is it enough to light their way through the maze of mystery, menace, and mistrust—to the love they once shared and would have to find again?
Publisher and Release date: Pocket Books, July 2016
Time and setting: England & Wales 1777/1783
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4.5
Review by Lady Cicley
Lady Juliana St. Albans has a tendency to land herself in trouble and then run away, something she has found herself doing quite frequently. First, when she attends a meeting of the secret political society, the Sons of Wales and then makes her escape only to find herself face to face with Rhys Vaughan, the son of the man that people say her father cheated out of his estate. Second, the following morning when Rhys shows up on her doorstep and outs her to her father who promises punishment; and finally when she finds herself running away with the man who has captured her heart in such a short time. Her heart soars with their wedding night only to break the next morning when she learns of his impressment on a warship. With her husband’s disappearance she agrees to her family’s wishes in keeping her marriage a secret with a demand of her own.
Rhys Vaughn grew up bowing to his father’s wishes: only speaking the English language, attending the best English schools, and touring the continent like a true English son. Even so, Rhys’ heart will always be Welsh. This has led him to this meeting of the secret group, Sons of Wales; a meeting where a bewitching lass catches his eye. A lass that soon earns his mistrust when he finds out she is the daughter of the man who stole his inheritance. Yet she is bewitching, and before long, Rhys and Juliana are meeting in secret and agreeing to run away together.
For six years Juliana has never lost hope that her husband will return. A hope that dies when her brother’s investigator tells her that her husband is dead. Now a widow Juliana bows to her brother’s wishes and agrees to marry another; at least until the impossible happens the night of her engagement ball.
Rhys has had six long years to harden his heart and let his mistrust of Juliana grow. When Rhys returns he is intent on claiming what is his and meting out just punishment, but the wife he finds is no longer the young girl who ran away from her troubles. She’s a woman who will fight for what she wants and can give as good as she gets but is that enough to break through his calloused heart and earn his trust? Can Rhys ever learn to trust her again and does Juliana even want him any more?
Juliana’s initial refusal to submit to the wishes of her family following her husband’s disappearance hints at the woman she will become. I admired the growth and independence that she achieves in the years after Rhys’ disappearance and sympathized with her shock upon his return. The determination she shows in her desire to regain Rhys’ love and trust is another point to be admired, which makes her slip into despair when she realizes she may never have it again all the more heartbreaking.
Rhys’ pain and suffering, along with the lies he was told, make his thirst for revenge understandable and he thinks he has the perfect plan. He suffers a barrage of emotions from his firm belief that Juliana betrayed him up until the moment she slips into despair and he realizes what she means to him, even though he is still not sure he can trust her. I could feel the battle within as Rhys tried to reconcile the fact that he still loved Juliana with his reluctance to trust her.
Stormswept is a reissue of a book originally published in 1995 by Sabrina Jeffries, writing as Deborah Martin. Ms. Jeffries has long been one of my “go-to authors” although it had been quite a while since I’ve read one of her books, this one reminded me why I enjoy this author’s writing. A great author is one who can engage the reader’s emotions; Ms. Jeffries accomplishes that and so much more.
Stormswept is filled with mistrust, lies, heartbreak, revenge, and devious relatives; all things that help make up a good story. Overall, it’s an excellent read and I highly recommend it.