Setting: 1840, Victorian
The face he shows the world is not the face she sees. . .
Once, ten years ago, they were young lovers, sharing sinful touches and desperate ecstasy. But he was bound by his promise to wed another. Since that fateful time, Christine Sommers has grown into a headstrong beauty, the kind of woman who thinks nothing of daring travels to the ends of the world. But for all her achievements, Christine has never found anyone who makes her heart race the way Erik Boughton once did.
Since that fateful time, Erik Boughton, the Duke of Sedgwick, has become something of a beast, at least according to the gossips of the ton. They say that he’s cursed, that any woman who shares his bed will meet an untimely end. But when he comes to Christine, desperate for her help to preserve his family and his title, she does not fear the devil duke. Enthralled by his ravenous desire, she would give him anything he wished, even her body . . . and her heart.
This is the first Melody Thomas I have read and I bought this one mainly on the basis of the back blurb which made the book sound as if it had magical elements in it. The blurb is very misleading. I thought the story was an update of Beauty and the Beast (which is my favourite fairytale), but it turned out the duke wasn’t a beast at all. Still, this was an interesting novel and different from the usual run of romance novels as it had an element of the supernatural in it-in the form of a ring which grants the wearer what they most wish for. This was more of a mystery romance, with the heroine trying to help the hero discover what happened to his ex-wife. The idea was interesting but failed to keep me hooked and I found myself wishing the story would move a little faster. It dragged in a lot of parts and I didn’t feel there was enough romance between the leads.
The hero, Erik is distant, brooding and really wasn’t a ‘devil duke’ as the back cover suggested. There were no mentions of mistresses or other women apart from Christine. The so-called curse wasn’t present either. Erik was always an honourable man and was as far from a beast as there could be!
Christine, the heroine was smart, independent and determined. She was definitely a woman to admire, and the reader could really connect with her as she tries to find meaning in her life. I loved how she could take care of herself and how the hero didn’t have to take care of her and was instead helping at her side.
Another thing that drew me to this book was the fact that the leads had once been together years ago but had since then been separated. Perhaps, this meant that there was no need for extra tension between the two but I did feel that the tension between them was lacking. Sexual tension is important in a romance as it allows the reader to root for the characters to be together and gives us something to look forward to. This was one of the book’s biggest flaws for me as the payoff came too quickly, and there wasn’t enough leading up to it.
I also felt that the book suffered from a lack of conflict as the danger was never too threatening and the conflict was too easily resolved. There was also no doubt of Erik and Christine loving each other even from when they were married for convenience.
I did enjoy the small tidbits of Scottish words thrown in, and enjoyed that the book was set in Scotland, which made it unique. It was a nice read but could have been better, and been more intriguing.
Sensuality Level: Warm (Love scenes are short but spicy)
Verdict: Just ok
Rating: 3 and a half stars out of 5