Everyone Nicholas Bateman ever loved has died. Except Violet Caulfield, which must mean he never loved her. Eight years after she threw him over to marry a viscount, Nick is a widowed duke who prefers isolation. When a friend convinces him to leave his lair of self-imposed solitude, he considers taking another wife, provided she agrees to his terms: no emotional attachment of any kind.
Now widowed, Lady Violet Pendleton hopes for a second chance with the man she’s always loved. But she isn’t prepared for the desolation in his soul or the animosity he still bears toward her. Despite those obstacles, it’s clear their passion hasn’t dimmed. However, the heat between them isn’t enough to melt the Duke of Ice, and this time Violet may find herself the jilted party. Can love, once so tragically lost, finally be found?
Review: I’ve been meaning to read a Darcy Burke historical for ages now. But for some reason it just hasn’t happened. When the request to review this title came through my email, I jumped on the chance to finally try her work. I’m glad I took the plunge. My only regret is that I picked a book in a middle of a series. That said, the book does stand on its own. I don’t believe that I was really missing anything by starting at this point. But I am curious enough to go back and read earlier books.
This is a second chance story. Nick and Violet met when they were young, before Nick inherited a title. They fell in love and then circumstances broke them apart. They never expected to run into each other at a house party and yet here they are. Trying to figure out what to do when they’re face to face with the one that got away.
Nick, the Duke of Ice, is an interesting character. He’s not had a very good life since he and Violet parted ways. He’s lost many people that are close to him and he feels he’s cursed. He’s determined to block off all feeling and relationships. Yet he starts to thaw when he sees Violet again.
Then there’s Violet. She ends up in a loveless marriage and regrets what happened with Nick. She sees this chance reunion as an opportunity for forgiveness and perhaps reconciliation. But the Nick she meets isn’t the carefree young man she once knew. Violet wasn’t as complex a character, but I do like that she wasn’t some cookie-cutter young miss in a Regency romance.
The romance was well developed and there were enough twists and turns to keep things interesting. I enjoyed the house party aspect of the story. I felt that the story went a little of kilter once the party ended. Attitudes just changed a little too fast for my tastes. I know we need to get to that happily ever after, but it almost seemed too easy.
But all in all, I really did enjoy the book enough to want more in this world. I’m excited to read more about Nick’s best friend, the Duke of Ruin. He was a scene stealer and a great supporting character. Well done, Ms Burke, you have a new fan.
“Looks like it’s you and Lady Pendleton,” Simon said. His voice carried a hint of something.
Nick snapped his head toward his friend and detected the glimmer of a smile in his gaze. He was enjoying this. He was playing matchmaker. And he had his sights set on Nick and Violet. Bloody hell.
Nick wanted to be angry, but his pull toward Violet was too strong. He’d felt it last night and again today when Simon had asked if it would be odd for him to pursue her. Nick had been jealous. Shockingly, blood-boilingly, desperately jealous.
The realization shook him to the core.
“Who’s to be the crier?” Simon asked.
“Why not Mr. Adair since he won Kiss the Nun?” Seaver suggested.
With everyone in agreement, Violet and Nick moved to the center of the room.
“Is this awkward?” she whispered.
“No.” His pulse quickened. Should he kiss her or should he fail?
His mind screamed the latter. And really, that was for the best. Jealousy aside, he and Violet had no future, not when their past was so painful.
And yet when they knelt with their backs to each other, he caught her scent of rose and an earthy spice. It was wholly feminine yet slightly wild. He hadn’t smelled a rose in the past eight years without thinking of her. His body reacted, heating at her proximity.
“Make ready,” Adair said.
Nick looked over his right shoulder and felt the air move as she looked over her left.
Nick leaned close to her cheek. He could feel her warmth, and his skin tingled.
He moved closer, but she sprang up. Instinctively, he reached for her, his arm curling about her waist. He pulled her back down. To stop her from hitting the floor, he spun to his back and sprawled, bringing her down on top of him. He cupped the side of her face and kissed her, his lips sliding over hers for a brief but delicious moment.
“The cheek,” she murmured, her gaze locked with his.
He leaned up and brushed his mouth against the soft flesh of her cheek. His lips lingered perhaps a second too long, but he didn’t care. Desire coursed through him, and for the first time in years, he felt alive.
Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy, emotional historical and contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations. Join her reader club at http://www.darcyburke.com/readerclub. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, two Bengal cats and a third cat named after a fruit.