Shelley Munro / Historical Romance
Carina Press / September 2010
Cursed with the sight and rumors of witchcraft, Rosalind's only chance at an ordinary life is marriage to Lucien, Viscount Hastings. She doesn't expect love, only security and children of her own. Determined to go through with the wedding, she allows nothing she encounters at the gloomy Castle St. Clare to dissuade her. Recently returned from the Continent, Lucien has no time for the English mouse his family has arranged for him to marry—not when he's plotting to avenge the murder of his beloved Francesca. He has no intention of bedding Rosalind, not even to sire an heir. Though spurned by her bridegroom, Rosalind turns to him for protection when she is plagued by a series of mysterious accidents and haunted by terrifying visions. Forced to keep Rosalind close—and tempted into passionate kisses—Lucien soon finds himself in grave danger of falling in love with his own wife . . .
I’m a sucker for all romance but I have an especially soft spot for those stories where the hero is adamant he doesn’t want the woman being forced on him but finds himself tempted beyond his limits as she slowly works her way into his heart. I love the uncertainty, the struggle as passions ignite to the point where it seems almost impossible to deny. One look at the books description told me I’d found such a story and so with an eager smile I began to read and I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed.
THE SPURNED VISCOUNTESS is a historical romance that shares the story of Rosalind, a gentle yet tenacious girl who longs for the security and love of a husband. All her life she has been plagued by a curse that has placed her life in constant threat from those who would discover her secret and label her a witch. Honor bound to her family’s wishes, Rosalind agrees to marry Viscount Hastings but it doesn’t take long before she realizes she’s not wanted, that her husband Lucien is tormented by his dead love Francesca and his need to avenge her murder. Not wanting to give up the dreams of a loving husband and mother, Rosalind refuses to be turned away and vows to make the best of the situation, hoping to win over her husband in friendship. Lucien slowly warms to her but there is mystery and danger in the air as Rosalind becomes the target of a malicious stalker, one who is hell bent on harming her. This stalker could be anybody, even the allusive and dangerous Hawk, leader of the band of local smugglers who Lucien is searching for but until the truth is revealed Rosalind must be careful. As she turns to Lucien for help, it brings them closer together and it doesn’t take long before the ice around Lucien’s heart melts, his opinion towards Rosalind changing. But is it too late for love with danger around every corner, ready to destroy them both? Or by teaming up together, can Lucien and Rosalind find the threat and overcome it? Definitely a good reason to read the book!
Filled with action, mystery and the tension that comes from struggling against the needs of the heart, I had a lot of fun reading this book and had that nice “deep sighing” reaction at the end. It was a light read that was easy enough to follow; proving it’s a perfect choice for reading on a cold winter’s day snuggled under a blanket. I enjoyed the mystery behind everything although I will admit I was a little worried when I pretty much figured out who the mysterious Hawk was early on in the book. Would the author continue to keep me engrossed or would the book be all downhill now the suspense was over. I’m really happy to announce that even though I knew the “who”, I was still shocked by the “why” and how it all unfolded. I loved the attention that the author paid to Rosalind and Lucien with the different scenes she had them together in and the warming of their relationship. Although you go into a romance “kind of” knowing the outcome of the story, it still was amazing to watch the journey both characters went through, the little twists and challenges that came up that helped chip away the barrier between them.
Almost instantly Rosalind was labeled by Lucien as a little English mouse and it didn’t take long for me to realize that she was far from it. She had fire and determination which was evident each time she challenged Lucien when he ordered her about. She knew what she wanted and even though at first she tried to act proper, she quickly began to speak freely, something necessary because with all the danger that surrounded her, no one was taking her seriously. She was brave and little too fearless for her own good but she was extremely endearing and I crossed my fingers for her through the whole book, hoping she’d get what her heart desired and come out of the story unscathed.
I couldn’t help but like Lucien either. Even though it annoyed me the way that he treated Rosalind in the beginning, I understood it because he was so deeply troubled and emotionally scarred. The last thing he needed was for some “wife” to get in the way of his revenge and his heart was still too deeply connected with his dead wife. He’d also lost most of his memory, something that frustrated him to no end so Rosalind was definitely a distraction he couldn’t afford. But I loved the way his mind turned and his heart softened. Lucien wasn’t a cruel and cold man - he was strong, sensual, passionate and a man who was at war with himself. I sighed all the way to the giddy end with him as I watched him open up and ask himself whether he’d take that second chance at love.
This was such a great book and one that left me with the feel good feeling I love so much. It kept my attention despite knowing the villain and had my heart hoping for Rosalind and Lucien from the beginning. THE SPURNED VISCOUNTESS is definitely a book I’d recommend and one I’m sure all romance lovers will enjoy. Happy reading!!