A MOST FORBIDDEN LOVE
They call him Chance, though in truth the Marquess of Fairlamb feels bitterly cursed: A long-ago family feud is still standing in the way of his heart’s desire. Lady Tempest is the daughter of his father’s sworn enemy, the Marquess of Norgrave. She is beautiful, innocent, and utterly untouchable. But some seductions are just too good to resist…
Turns out Tempest is a woman of her own mind—and a true romantic who will overcome every obstacle to be with the man of her dreams. But the odds are against handsome, wickedly charming Chance if he intends to win Tempest as his bride. Will he choose loyalty to his family—or risk everything he has for the woman he yearns for?
Publisher and Release Date: St. Martin’s Paperbacks, April 2016
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars
Review by Maria Almaguer
The Romeo and Juliet trope is a common one in historical romance and this novel follows the love story of the children of former best friends Blackbern and Norgrave. Their infamous falling out twenty-four years earlier is detailed in the exquisite first book in the series, A Duke but No Gentleman. I had likened that book to Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos in its wit and cunning and downright scandalous behavior. Alas, the second book in Alexandra Hawkins’ new Masters of Seduction series does not quite measure up to either.
Both Norgrave and Blackbern are now fathers of adult children and in London high society, they are bound to eventually meet. They have managed to skillfully avoid each other and their families for many years – even society hostesses know not to invite both to the same soirées – but one hot day in the country, Tempest (Norgrave’s eldest daughter) catches a delicious glimpse of a naked Mathias (Blackbern’s heir) swimming in a pond with his friends. She has no idea who he is until he catches up with her and introduces himself. To his dismay, he realizes she’s the daughter of his father’s enemy and vows to avoid her. But he is hopelessly attracted. And so is she.
From here, the two meet at musicales and balls and then, more often, secretly, though her bombastic older brother Marcroft has threatened Mathias more than once with a duel. But I didn’t quite get the feel of danger and deceit though Tempest and Mathias are definitely playing with fire.
The denouement is a shocker but it seems a bit melodramatic and also, too little, too late. As lovers, Mathias and Tempest are likeable but their relationship isn’t very passionate or fraught with peril. Their naivété in thinking they will never be caught is unrealistic but, more than that, I am not sure I feel the attraction is well portrayed enough to warrant all the perceived drama. Yes, Marcroft is aware of the attraction but all he does is threaten. In other words, all bluff but no bite. The book needs more action to add excitement and tension.
Still, Ms. Hawkins writes very well and her depiction of the intricate dynamics in both families is very well done. I would love to see how the evil Norgrave ended up where is he now after the horrible scandal in A Duke but No Gentleman. That would be the more exciting and intriguing story to read. Perhaps Ms. Hawkins can be enticed to write a novella?
If you enjoy feuding family stories with star-crossed lovers, you might enjoy You Can’t Always Get the Marquess You Want.