Tuesday, November 23, 2010
A Flawless Beauty
Bored with her pompous suitors, Miss Natalie Haislett longs for romance and adventure. She is inflamed by dreams of the mysterious Black Knight - a daring English thief who has stolen her heart from afar with his legendary exploits. To meet her beloved, she reluctantly appeals to the one man who knows him: the renowned womanizer Jonathan Drake.
A Priceless Passion
Intrigued by Natalie's loveliness, Jonathan agrees to take her to France where the Black Knight is rumored to be. To allay suspicion, they travel in the guise of a married couple, sharing intimacies that blossom into friendship and kisses that stoke a reckless hunger...
A Thief of Hearts
When a necklace of precious emeralds is brazenly stolen at a party they attend, Natalie knows that the Black Knight is near. But she doesn't realize that the man of her dreams has already seen inside her heart-and has vowed to possess it...
I simply adored this romance! Set in the early 1840's, the young and proper Natalie Haislett runs off to France with dashing Jonathan Drake, a known rake, to see if he can introduce her to a daring jewel thief, the Black Knight. As improbable as the whole scenario was, I loved it! I was a bit apprehensive that I wasn't going to love this one as much as My Darling Caroline, another of Ashworth's novels, but I enjoyed this one even more!
Natalie is at a disadvantage, we first meet her as a young, naive debutante who declares her love to the older and dashing Jonathan Drake outside her family estate the evening of her debut. They share a passionate kiss and she tells him she loves him. Rather than taking complete advantage of her (which he easily could have done) he does the honorable thing and ruefully sends her back inside. Years go by and she cannot think about that evening without complete embarrassment. Yet, it turns out she has to turn to Jonathan for another reason now - to introduce her to the Black Knight! Of course, we all know who the "real" Black Knight is. Jonathan is working for the Crown, the usual sort of espionage, foiling some sort of French coup thing. Jewels are involved and it was all deliciously far fetched but so much fun!
The two travel to France together, posing as man and wife. They sail there and head for Marseilles, sharing a tiny cabin together - and a bed no less! Nothing happens between them except some passionate kissing, stringing out the sexual chemistry between the two, with a constant building up. Their characters are well developed and there is a lot of emotion and thought that is going on in both their heads about one another. Natalie has this crazy notion that she wants to marry the Black Knight - or at least this is what she tells Jonathan. He gnashes his teeth as he discovers his feelings are strong for her, yet he's competing against himself - the Black Knight! But, the plot turns, and we find out Natalie's real reasons are different and not what they seem. She's still attracted to Jonathan very much, but is convinced he's a rake and no good for her. How can he convince her otherwise? Can he persuade her that he really loves her - and has been in love with her ever since that first night together when they danced and she ingenuously told him she loved him? How can he make her believe she's not just one of a million other women he's said those same words to?
I'm leaving tons out to avoid spoilers, but there are plot twists all over and I loved the locales and descriptions of the scenery, the costumes, furnishings - all very well done in this historical romance. Entertaining plot, emotional and thoughtful - and poignant. By the time they declare their love for one another, I was nearly in tears. Great, great!