Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “…being ruined by you is the best thing that could ever happen to me.”
Pierce Langston, Viscount Westfall, is thought to be mad. His ability to hear people’s thoughts since a childhood accident lands him in Bedlam where he was subjected to heinous “cures.” Rescued by a friend, Langston now uses his gift to serve the crown as a member of The Order of MUSE.
Lady Nora (Honora) Claremont is a widely known courtesan. The second daughter of an Earl, she married an unsuitable man and they disowned her. When her husband passes away, she was left alone and penniless. Forced to seek her own way in the world, she enters into an age old profession.
When it comes to MUSE’s attention that an item has been found that could harm the Prince Regent and all of Britain, Langston is charged with finding it. In his search he chances upon Nora and is blindsided by his attraction to her. He also realises that she knows something of the item he seeks; something that could label her a traitor. Caught between his duty to the crown and his growing feelings for Nora, Langston seeks to free her from her protector and the secrets that bind her to him but the only way to do that will be for him to face his greatest fear. And this time he may not survive it.
The Madness of Lord Westfall is the second installment in the Order of the MUSE series but easily stands on it’s own. A strong character driven historical romance with a suspenseful paranormal base. Smooth writing, fast pacing, and a well developed storyline seizes your attention right from the start. We are given two story lines in here; the recovery of a supernatural artifact and a grand love affair that seems doomed even before it starts. Running parallel with one another; they intertwining and blend together throughout the book. This story packs quite an emotional punch as our hero and heroine struggle to reconcile their attraction to one another while remaining loyal to their individual causes.
Pierce Langston is a dream of a hero. Large, handsome, broody, and socially stunted. His own suffering makes him more empathetic than most when faced with injustice. Pierce has suffered greatly for his gift. Having fell from a tree as a child, the resulting injury opened a doorway that allowed him to hear other people’s thoughts. Unbeknownst to him that everyone wasn’t like this, he frequently blurted out personal information that set the stage for his supposed madness. When his parents passed away, his uncle, who was also his guardian, had him committed to Bedlam in order to seize control of inheritance. He spent years in there at the hands of so called professionals hose cures often mimicked torture. Thankfully, Pierce was rescued by the Duke of Camden and spirited away to his estate and inducted into the Order of the MUSE.
Nora Claremont has also known much grief and sorrow in her relatively short life. Going against her family’s wishes and marrying a doctor lead to her being disinherited. When her husband is killed on the battlefield, Nora is left desolate and forced to make some very difficult decisions for herself and those who depend on her. Choosing to become a courtesan enables her to maintain some sort of independence while acquiring the things she needs to survive. Having accepted the protection and in turn the secrets of an old friend, she now leads a dual existence that only becomes harder to maintain once she meets Pierce and spends time with him.
I found our hero and heroine to be utterly divine and captivating as they maneuver their way around each other. Two lonely souls for whom life has been nothing but a series of disappointments and sorrow. Yet neither are beaten down by their past. Their strength is magnified by their perseverance, intelligence, and lust for life. The journey they travel together is littered with pitfalls, traps, and secrets but Marlowe tempers the seriousness with playful flirting and witty banter. Both of them know that due to their circumstances, falling in love is not a luxury that either can afford at this time, but the heart wants what the heart wants. The chemistry between these two blazes white hot off the pages and Marlowe amplifies the heat with some delicious love scenes.
Vibrant secondary characters are bursting from the seams of the book yet you never feel overwhelmed. We interact with various characters from previous books and meet a few very interesting new ones. Their strong camaraderie is felt and I loved that the order doesn’t discriminate. I look forward to reading their stories in the future. The inclusion of additional subplots is well done and blends well with the main storyline. A single grand gesture of love is a mixture of hope and despair that catapults you to the end, leaving you emotionally drained but elated from the ride Marlowe has taken you on.