Sunday, October 16, 2011
Ethan MacCarrick was a heartbreakingly handsome rake until a powerful nobleman ordered him brutally beaten and his face scarred for a crime he didn't commit. Ethan's reprisal - bankrupting the nobleman and forcing his exile - does little to appease his wrath. Ten years later, a haughty, mysterious beauty enchants Ethan - the daughter of his enemy. At last, Ethan will have the revenge he's craved; he'll promise her marriage, seduce her, then cast her aside.
When Madeleine van Rowen's family was suddenly plunged into destitution and dishonor, she steeled herself against further heartache. She never weakened, never trusted, until a towering, scarred Highlander relentlessly pursues her, breaking down her defenses.
At what price forgiveness?
The passion between them burns hotter than Ethan's fury, and soon he finds he can't let her go. But when Madeleine uncovers the truth about him, can Ethan convince her to accept all he now offers -- when he once destroyed everything she had?
A great finale to the MacCarrick trilogy! I loved this book, which was the most compelling - and sexiest. Ethan's story is right up my alley since I have a thing for scarred heroes. Brutally tortured ten years earlier, Ethan bears a horribly scarred face forever. He finds his mate, Maddie, only to realize she's the daughter of the two people responsible for his mutilation. The vengeance he enacted upon her parents greatly affected her life as well. She had to fight and fend for herself in a cruel world - but she did it! How can he live with the knowledge of what he did to her and not tell her the truth? Trust me, this was a great story!
To be honest, the first two books in the MacCarrick Brothers series didn't wow me. But all along while reading them, I was very curious about Ethan. The references to their eldest brother with his scarred face and bad boy persona made me want to read his story! I'm so glad I didn't give up on the series (I admit I was thinking of it.)
The old Ethan MacCarrick had once been tall, dark and handsome. Rich and known as a ladies' man he could have any woman he wanted - and did! But one night he wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time and he paid for cuckolding a husband one too many. The irony is, he didn't even sleep with the wife, he almost did but changed his mind for he instinctively felt like it would mean trouble - and Ethan's instincts were right on target. He was found with the wife and taken away and tortured, his face horrible carved with a knife, never to be handsome again. He's lucky that's all that was cut. He took his vengeance on the man who was responsible, bankrupting him which led to his suicide. The faithless wife remarried in Paris and their sole daughter, Maddie wound up suffering the most. Her mother barely gave her a care and Maddie grew up in the Paris slums, fending for herself, doing what she could to earn money without selling her body.
Ten years later Ethan meets Maddie having no idea who she really is at first. He is bowled over by her beauty and the way she makes him feel. Ever since his mutilation he's never been able to recapture the thrill of a conquest with a woman nor has he ever felt so attracted to a woman - until Maddie. Throwing cares to the wind, they have a sensual moment at a masquerade (convenient for him with a mask on). Even though he is on a mission (he works as an assassin for the Crown) he can't get Maddie out of his head. She has bewitched him.
If You Deceive overlaps with the other two previous books in the series, and it helps to have read them first, but it's not absolutely necessary, this can be a standalone. Ethan and his brothers all work for the Crown as undercover spies. Ethan is the fiercest and most ruthless of the three. After meeting Maddie he completes his mission for the Crown yet he cannot stop thinking about her. He discovers all he can about her and learns who she is, the daughter of his old nemesis. He is determined to find her in Paris (where she has returned after their meeting in London) and trick her into thinking he'll marry her, even though he has no intention of doing so (all the MacCarrick brothers think they're cursed and cannot marry or fall in love for fear their brides will die.) It's complicated. He thinks her mother is still alive (whom he loathes) and feels that by hurting Maddie, he'll be getting back at the mother. Yes, I know, this is a despicable way of thinking, but as we see, Ethan cannot go through with his plan. Once he gets to know Maddie and realizes all the hardships she's gone through and how strong and fearless she is, he wants to help her instead of hurting her - but... there's that sticky family curse hanging over his head.
The sexual dynamics between Maddie and Ethan is what makes this book so good. Their lovemaking is hot, although Maddie refuses to let him make love to her until they are married. It creates a great sexual tension between the two. Their relationship is complex but they're so right for one another. Maddie has seen so much in her lifetime, his scarred visage means nothing to her. It doesn't frighten her when she sees him. That alone makes her unique to him. I loved Maddie. She is strong and resourceful and she doesn't take sh*t from anyone. She's ready to move on and leave Ethan (when he's being a complete prick to her) if need be. She loves him and cares for him but she is a realist. When it looks like he's leading her on and is not going to marry her, she knows when it's time to leave. I like that. Of course, he's only being that way because he's warring with the guilt going on in his head. He loves her and he's afraid if she finds out that he was the one that ruined her father she'll hate him for keeping the secret from her for so long. Again, it's complicated. Ethan is a big, brawny Scot. He's proud, arrogant and larger than life. He's a tortured hero (literally) and cannot deal with the fact that he's madly in love with Maddie, whom he wronged unknowingly. It's killing him. Miscommunication and big misunderstandings! What would a romance be without them - right?
Without going further into the plot and giving too much away, I highly recommend this book. Great relationship between the strong hero and heroine. The emotions are high with plenty of passion and angst that sizzle off the pages. I simply loved it! A great wrap up to the whole series!