Reviewed by May
Favorite Quote: Cam stopped in the wings and drew a deep breath. It wasn’t a pleasant breath, thick as the air was with the scent of paint and sweat, but to Cam it still smelled as rich and heady as a fine perfume. This was the fragrance of the theater, of the magic of make-believe. It was slightly stale and very human. Precisely the reasons why he enjoyed it so much.
Rich and powerful, and with a reputation as the worst sort of scoundrel Cam (Cameron Chalton, Viscount of Marwood) is not your usual gentleman. What he hides, however, is a deeply romantic soul and true love of the theater. His notorious wicked ways are in part a cover for his desire to watch and rewatch plays, and to enjoy theater every night possible.
One of his favorite writers is Margaret Delamere, a woman that writes incredible burlettas that are performed at a small but well liked theater where he has a box. When he meets her for the first time he is stunned to find that she’s immune to his usual charms and easily passes on the opportunity to spend more time with him.
In fact, he must work very hard indeed to get any time with this woman who is invading all his thoughts and making him uninterested in all the vices and scandalous activities that usually fill his nights.
Meanwhile our heroine Maggie has problems of her own. Indeed Mrs. Delamere has a wicked case of writer’s block and she is horrified to find that the odious Viscount of Marwood seems to help inspire her quill. After several encounters he becomes financially involved in the theater, and he offers his country home up to her as well.
“How am I to recognize you, if not by your swagger and braggadocio?”
“My roguish good looks,” he answered.
“But London is full of wiched-looking men. At any given moement there are fifteen gents all swanning about, looking like Byron.”
“Firstly,” he corrected, “I do not swan. I stride about with masculine, virile purpose. And secondly, Byron imitated me, not the other way around.” Could she tell that every word she spoke set him higher and higher aflame? His true self, the one that longed for love and did, in fact, dream, had been buried b his role as the reprobate heir. But with her compassion and clear-sightedness she wore away at his veneer. The polished surface gave way to the rough rock beneath.
What I absolutely loved about this story was how we really get to see Cam’s behavior and his reasons for acting as he does. You can see that she challenges, questions, and sends him to new heights as well as giving him a sense of purpose. While it was a bit weak to me that he had to be a complete scoundrel – but I can see why he picked that lifestyle.
I also loved that because of Maggie’s past, she has trouble trusting anyone most especially someone titled. Watching her struggle with her block, as well as seeing her learn to open up and trust someone new was fantastic. At times I wanted Maggie’s struggles to hurry along, but overall both of these characters were beautifully developed and really captured my full attention.
I did find the story a bit on the slow and dry side – but it could have been my mood on the day I read the story. While not especially action or adventure packed, this is a lovely story of two people very much alone and not understood in this world finding in each other a beautiful love and chance at a new future.
Ava Leigh (author many of us know formerly as Zoe Archer) has kept her quill sharp and her skill of balancing strong characters, romance, and a good story as well. This is the second book in this series, however the book reads well as a stand-alone as well.