Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Damien Knight, the earl of Winterley, is proud, aloof, and tormented by memories of war. Though living in seclusion, he is named guardian to a fellow officer’s ward. Instead of the young homeless waif he was expecting, however, Miranda FitzHubert is a stunning, passionate beauty who invades his sanctuary and forces him back into society. Struggling to maintain honor and self-control, Damien now faces an even greater threat: desire.
A bold, free spirit, Miranda has witnessed the darkest depths of Damien’s soul–and has seen his desperate need for love. But before she can thaw his unyielding heart, she must endure a terrifying nightmare of her own. . .
I really enjoyed this third installment in the Knight Miscellany Series. Damien Knight, newly awarded the title of Earl of Winterley due to his heroics on the battlefield, is suffering from post-traumatic syndrome, fighting his inner demons and memories from the Napoleonic Wars. His attacks occur when loud noises like fireworks occur and he imagines himself back on the battlefield, fighting amidst the cannons and gunshots. He goes into a kind of trance and becomes Berserker-like, a human fighting machine, bent on killing his enemies, real or imaginary.
The last thing he needs while trying to find peace and quiet at his newly acquired country estate (a huge old rambling mansion in desperate need of repair and furniture - a real fixer upper) is to learn of the murder of one of his fellow soldiers. Damien finds himself guardian to the soldier's niece, a beautiful young nineteen year old girl still in school. Damien has no idea she's all grown up and upon visiting her to inform her that he will be her new guardian, the adventure begins.
Miranda dreams of being an actress. The "school" where she has been living is horrible. The head of it is a pedophile and treats the young girls abominably. Miranda, the eldest, keeps watch for the younger girls, determined to save them from the lecherous headmaster. But at night, she sneaks off to the local theatre and becomes a different person on the stage. Thanks to her luscious curves and enchanting face and hair, she is a popular attraction, no one has any idea that she's really a virginal school girl. Of course, who happens to catch her show? Damien Knight. Hoping to rest and relax and perhaps pick up a comely wench, he visits the theatre the night before he is due to visit his new ward. He is mesmerized by the fair Miranda. He wants her. Now. Literally trapping her outside the stage door after the show, they have a few heady moments. She takes his breath away. Convinced she's a woman of the world, he tries his best to get her to spend the night with him. Although she is sorely tempted, she runs away in the snow back to school. Damien follows her in time to see her ambushed by thugs who try to kidnap her. Berserker Damien takes over and he kills most of them, while the rest flee in terror of the monster with the ice blue eyes. Miranda is a bit overwhelmed and frightened herself of how changed he became, running for her life back to school.
This first part of the book centers on how Miranda and Damien meet, for meet again they do the next morning at her school. She has a lot of explaining to do. He is determined to try and forget what happened the night before between them and treat her in the manner worthy of a guardian. In other words - no more thoughts of jumping her bones. Miranda, unfortunately has other ideas. She's rapidly falling for her new guardian who is becoming more and more heroic in her eyes. Handily dispatching the lecherous schoolmaster at her school (once he finds out the truth after Miranda tearfully tells him all about it) they head off to London so she can make her debut, which begins the 2nd part of the book. While there, Miranda meets her cousin and despicable uncle. The same uncle who killed his own brother (Miranda's former guardian) to get her fortune of fifty thousand pounds. The same uncle who hired the thugs to kidnap her. The same uncle who now wants her dead.
So, we've got a few things going on in this book. Damien, afraid his bouts of madness will hurt her, tries to keep his distance, but their mutual attraction is much too hard to resist. There's only so much a grown man can take when a young nubile female is constantly throwing herself at him. Miranda is not willing to take no for an answer. She wants him. Now. Meanwhile, he's trying to figure out who is trying to harm her, too many "accidents" have been happening to her to ignore. As he starts to put two and two together can she help him during his dark periods? Can he keep her safe from her ruthless uncle? There's a big finale with lots of blood and gore (reminded me of a movie from the '80's with Arnold Schwarzenegger) at his country estate, but all ends well.
This was an entertaining story. It had it's sizzling moments and Miranda and Damien made a great couple, loved the chemistry between the two. But I felt the last twenty pages of the book were tacked on as an afterthought when Damien is recruited to the battlefield once again after Napoleon's escape from Elba. Still, it served it's purpose for some angst and worry and a final resolution for his military career.