SETTING: Historical - Regency era
TYPE: Straight Romance
SERIES: 3rd book in the Neville family series
If he wins this hand...THOUGHTS / OPINION:
Shunning the glittering elite of high society Kieran, Baron Rothewell, prefers the dangerous pursuits of London's demimonde. Hardened by a tormented past, he cares little for anyone or anything. So how can he resist the wager proposed by the dissolute Comte de Valigny? A hand of cards for the possession of the comte's exquisite daughter.
Will he win her heart?
Abandoned by her highborn father -- until he decides to use her -- Mademoiselle Camille Marchand puts no trust in an aristocrat's honor, especially that of the notorious baron. She too is gambling -- for her life -- and Rothwell is just one more card to be used. But whatever dark desires run through his veins call to her own, and the heart plays its own game -- winner take all!
I am a obsessive compulsive series reader. At least I used to be. I cannot pickup a book to read unless I am sure I have read the previous books in the series. But now I find myself falling behind in my reading of some of my favorite authors - Liz Carlyle being one of them. So when I find a recommendation for a book in a series I just jump in, grab it and start reading. I'm so glad I did because NRAR turned out to be an excellent read and I didn't feel like I was missing anything by started #3 in the series without having read #1 & #2.
Kiernan is a dark, tormented, self-destructive man and for good reason given his childhood abuse. He spends most of his time drinking to excess, smoking, and frequenting bawdy houses and gambling dens. His health is deteriorating badly and he fears his death is imminent and does nothing to alter his behavior. One thing I dislike about books about rakes is that they turn out to be "fake rakes". Well, Kiernan is a real rake deserving of the title.
Kiernan meets Camille Marchand one evening in a corrupt gambling hell when her depraved father, Comte de Valigny, wagers the right to marry her (and her large dowry) in a card game. Kiernan is shocked and thinks to put a stop to it but then realizes that Camille is not fighting it. But he cannot allow the lecherous slime at the table to have her so he makes sure he wins. Afterward he takes her aside tells her she doesn't have to marry him. But Camille insists upon the marriage AND a child in exchange for her dowry. She can only collect her grandfather's inheritance after she marries and produces a child. Camille is the illegitimate daughter of the Comte's and had a difficult and insecure childhood. Her father is now trying to use her to get at her huge inheritance.
Both Kiernan and Camille are deep multifaceted characters and their relationship development was a delight from their first meeting to eventually falling in love. The love scenes are steamy and Kiernan's redemption from rake to loving husband was wonderful. All the characters were well done especially Kemble. I believe he has appeared in several previous books by Carlyle.
Given these two superb characters and their relationship and Carlyle's usual excellent prose, I was completely enthralled. Kiernan's health issues and Camille's family issues (which I won't spoil) are resolved very satisfyingly. NRAR is another keeper from Carlyle.