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Book Cover Lawson’s review of Written on Your Skin by Meredith Duran
Historical romance released by Pocket Books 28 Jul 09

This is the second book, or more correctly, the companion to Duran’s Bound by Your Touch. While I enjoyed Duran’s debut, Duke of Shadows, I wasn’t as wowed by her second book. The interesting thing is this book occurs concurrently with Bound by Your Touch, but it certainly stands on it’s own. I enjoyed Phin from that story and am glad that his book came so quickly after the first one.

The story opens in Hong Kong and Phineas Granville, going by the name Phineas Monroe, is posing as an arms dealer from Chicago to stop Gerard Collins, a smuggler and all around bad guy, from shipping more arms to Ireland to the Fenians. Phin is happy his assignment is almost over as Collins is set to be arrested soon, but he’s been irratated by Collins’ stepdaughter, Mina Masters. In trying to get away from Mina, he instead ends up on the dance floor with her only to fall forward because he realizes he’s been poisoned.

Mina saves his life and he is able to escape, but their paths cross four years later in London when Collins escapes and kidnaps Mina’s mother. Mina aims to get Phin’s help to find her mother by cashing in the debt he owes her for saving his life. With some creative wrangling, Mina gets him on her side, but with manipulations by the government as well as the traitor that was involved in Hong Kong, both Mina and Phin have to trust each other quickly to get the ending they both want and deserve, and of course, so much more.

Mina definitely has not had the easiest life. She’s been pampered and well cared for, but Collins was verbally and emotionally abusive to her as well as physically abusive to her mother. Desperate to save her mother from Collins’ wrath, Mina has a set plan in mind and shows all the cunning and cleverness she’s capable of to get Phin to help her. Seeing her masks fall off and for her to be herself with Phin was very interesting, because her examination of herself and letting go so that she could trust Phin made her character fascinating.

Phin was very similar in his manner of distrust toward Mina. When he sees she’s telling the truth about things and is not a spy on him sent by his former superior. Phin is carrying various physical and emotional scars from his decade in the clandestine service, mostly because he didn’t like what he had to do while he served Queen and country. Because of their hurt and naturally distrusting natures, the verbal sparring between Mina and Phin set of sparks, not to mention what happened in the bedroom.

Since this book does happen concurrently with Bound By Your Touch, there are two scenes that overlap from that book, but are instead from Phin’s point of view, which definitely is a fresh perspective. Where Phin had been off to is explained well and the mystery in this book is dealt with in a more satisfying manner in the end that matches the characters and their journey throughout the book.

What’s keeping me from giving this book an A is something that I realized after I put the book down. While I loved Mina and Phin and what they grew to by the end of the book and what they saw they could become together, Mina never really cracked Phin. Though she does end up breaking down and growing up, with Phin’s help, and she does help Phin see the things he should be proud of instead of what he regrets, when the same thing happens to Phin, Mina usually ends up physically man-handled. Though she does take it very well and is able to turn the tables on him a bit, it made me a little uncomfortable that his need for physical dominance (though he never hurt her) was what brought things into focus.

Phin otherwise was a good character, seeing being himself was just as worthy as being responsible and dutiful. For fans of great dialogue and smart characters that work very well together, this is a must read.

lawson-icon.jpgGrade: B+


Beauty, charm, wealthy admirers: Mina Masters enjoys every luxury but freedom. To save herself from an unwanted marriage, she turns her wiles on a darkly handsome stranger. But Mina’s wouldbe hero is playing his own deceptive game. A British spy, Phin Granville has no interest in emotional entanglements…until the night Mina saves his life by gambling her own.


Four years later, Phin inherits a title that frees him from the bloody game of espionage. But memories of the woman who saved him won’t let Phin go. When he learns that Mina needs his aid, honor forces him back into the world of his nightmares.


Deception has ruled Mina’s life just as it has Phin’s. But as the beauty and the spy match wits in a dangerous dance, their practiced masks begin to slip, revealing a perilous attraction. And the greatest threat they face may not be traitors or murderous conspiracies, but their own dark desires….

Read an excerpt