It’s no secret that I’m a total Hannah Howell fangirl. I own every book she’s ever written – and multiple copies of my favorites. I stopped reading the Murray series awhile back because I felt it was becoming very repetitive, but that hasn’t stopped me from buying them.
Because she’s become kind of repetitive, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this new series. I read the second book, If He’s Sinful, and enjoyed it, but the slow pacing bothered me. The first in the series, If He’s Wicked, I can’t seem to recall right now (I think I read it, but the details are hazy). I’m thinking I’ll go back and re-read it now, however. The pacing issues of the second book were cleared up in this one, and I really enjoyed the overall story and the characters.
Alethea is a strong woman, but not as in-your-face about it as many other Howell heroines. She has a core of inner strength, but she isn’t a warrior or a fighter. Her strength is more emotional. Each of the members of her family, The Vaughns, and their close relations, The Wherlockes, have some kind of special “gift”. Alethea’s is visions. If she touches something belonging to someone else she will often have visions of that person and what they were doing while touching the item. She also has “knowings” or strong feelings about things to come. She doesn’t really see the future, so much as have visions of things that have happened or might happen in the future.
This isn’t always easy for people to accept, so she’s concerned about how the Marquis of Redgrave will react when she comes to tell him she’s had a vision of him dying. I understood her reluctance to share, and the reasons why her family is so reclusive and secretive about their gifts, but it was harped on a bit too much, IMO. Once the point was made, it could have been dropped.
Hartley was my favorite type of hero. He was strong and capable, yet willing to acknowledge his softer emotions. He cared greatly for his family, and he makes no secret about wanting a true marriage with Alethea. He doesn’t really believe in love, but he believes in companionship, trust, loyalty and fidelity. He’s protective, but not smothering. Best of all, he appreciates Alethea’s gift and those of her family. It took a bit of convincing, but once he realizes the truth behind what they can do, he’s totally supportive.
The suspense aspect was interesting, only because the villains are well known right from the start. The trouble comes from figuring out a way to expose them, since most of the knowledge of their misdeeds come from Alethea and her family’s gifts. Though I will say the villains are typical for Howell, and not surprising in the least. Sometimes I wonder if she doesn’t particularly like women, or if she’s just trying to prove the point that women can be worse than men and they shouldn’t be underestimated. Maybe a combination of the two?
Overall I enjoyed the story. The characters were well drawn and delightful, especially Alethea and her family. I was somewhat disappointed in Hartley’s niece and nephew, though. I expected them to be more traumatized than they were. I would have liked to see that aspect explored a bit more.
She Sees His Face Everywhere…
Lady Alethea Vaughn Channing is haunted by a vision of a man in danger—the same man who she has seen in dreams time and time again. She doesn’t even know his name, and yet she feels the connection between them, knows she is the only one standing between him and disaster.
…Yet They Have Never Met
But rakish Lord Hartley Greville is capable of protecting himself, as he has proven more than once in his perilous work as a spy for the crown. If he’s to carry out his duty, he’ll need to put aside the achingly beautiful woman with the strange gift. And yet, when Alethea’s visions reveal a plot that could endanger children, Hartley will not be able to ignore the destiny that binds them together—or resist the passion burning between them…
Read an excerpt here.