Saturday, May 25, 2013

Review: Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine Heath


Rafe Easton is the youngest of Pembrook's Lost Lords and the most mysterious. Left by his brothers in a workhouse, Rafe has had to fend for himself for 12 years, waiting for his brothers to return to reclaim their legacy. Their fortunes and name restored, Sebastian and Tristan have settled into their new lives but Rafe remains on the fringes of his brothers' lives. What happened to Rafe all those years ago? Even his brothers wonder and Rafe isn't ready to share his secrets with anyone. He is content to live and work at The Rakehell Club, where he rules over men's lives and their fortunes with games of chance.

Evelyn Chambers is the beloved bastard daughter of the Earl of Wortham. Despite the circumstances of her birth, she enjoyed her father's affection and lived a comfortable life in his house. When her father died, her fate rested on her brother's hands -- and for the new Earl of Wortham, it was time to exact revenge on the usurper of his father's attentions. Geoffrey has no use for his father's bastard and had no intentions of fulfilling his promise to see for Evelyn's future. At the first opportunity, he auctions Evelyn to the highest bidder to cover his debts.

And Rafe wins her -- and doesn't quite understand how he got himself in this situation and why he willingly saddled himself with a woman he didn't want -- or did he?

Of the three Lord Lords, I thought Rafe suffered the most. He lost his father, his heritage, his name -- everything his brothers lost -- but he lost even more: he lost his childhood and his brothers. He's been on his own since age 10 and has learned to never trust or depend on anyone. His brothers have returned and have settled into their own lives -- but Rafe remains unsettled -- unready to open himself up to his brothers or anyone else. Rafe is a reluctant hero, refuses the spotlight and any credit to any good that he has done. He has defined himself by the past -- that he wasn't capable enough or strong enough for his brothers to take along with them.

At the crux of Rafe's struggles is his sense of self-worth, which is zero -- an irony, considering his personal worth has more than that of his brother, the Duke's. He can buy and sell houses, horses, and even people -- but, despite all the money in the world, despite the incredible power he wields, despite the fancy clothes he wears and the fancy house he owns, Rafe is still a pauper deep inside.

"You don't really intend to give me the residence, do you?" she asked in that raspy voice that seemed a bit rougher since last night.

"I said I would."

She peered over at him. "But it and everything in it must be worth a fortune."

He shrugged as though it hardly mattered, because in truth it didn't. He purchased items because he could, but he took no pleasure in them or the act of obtaining them.

"How can you value it so little?"

"Perhaps the better question is how can I value you so much?" As soon as he heard the words, he wanted to such them back in. He didn't value her, not at all, but he knew what awaited her with him. Guilt prodded him to give her what he could so she would forgive him for the things he couldn't.
- pp. 76-77

Eve is coming from a world wherein she was assured of her value. Her father cherished her and loved her -- but all that was stripped away from her by her half-brother. And now, Evelyn has nothing and no one.

It isn't hard to imagine why these two souls deserve each other -- they've both lost so much and deserve so much and Lorraine Heath writes their story with such intensity and poignance that you cannot help but be affected by their story.

Throughout the series, Rafe's brothers often wondered about their youngest brother: What's wrong with him? What happened to him? When Rafe finally articulates everything that he has bottled up inside him: all the hurt, resentment, insecurity, pain and loneliness -- my heart just ached so much and I was near tears.

But this is what I appreciate the most about Lorraine Heath's storytelling: she doesn't wipe the slate clean but allows her characters to still carry their scars. Rafe is still Rafe -- but Rafe's a much better person now that he has found love.

Magical is not the word to describe this story because it would mean that something miraculous and beyond human happened to the characters. Wondrous is a better word -- no magic wands, no fairy godmothers -- just plain human determination: Rafe and Eve fought against what they felt for each other and then fought for what they felt.

Lord of Wicked Intentions is the final book in Lorraine Heath's The Lost Lords of Pembrook series. To find out more about the author and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook and on Goodreads.

To read my reviews of the rest of the series, click below:
Book 1: She Tempts the Duke
Book 2: Lord of Temptation

There is also an e-novella, Book 2.5: Deck the Halls with Love, which is part of the series.

A final note: I loved this exchange between the hero and heroine. Yes, it's the requisite drunken scene where things are confessed but I love, love, love how Lorraine Heath wrote it:

He chuckled low. "After everything that's happened to you, how can you remain so damned optimistic?"

"I wouldn't much like being the other way." She squinted. "You need to stop drinking. You're becoming blurred."

He smiled, a real smile, she thought, but it was so difficult to see. The room was growing dark around the edges, and she was having a devil of a time keeping her eyes open.

"I believe you're the one who's blurred," he said, and she could have sworn she heard the amusement in his voice.
- p. 226

1 comments:

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...