STORY: Lord Ian Blake has returned from India a broken man. Years ago, he pledged to Lady Eva Carin—his childhood companion and first love—that he would bring her husband back alive. His failure haunts him. But even his jaded soul can’t anticipate the shocking sight of beautiful, independent Eva confined in a madhouse.
Locked in an asylum, forgotten by society, Eva is adrift in both body and mind. For Ian to break her free, they must cross a powerful enemy—and prove her sanity to England’s unforgiving aristocracy. But the biggest danger of all may come when the secrets of Eva’s tragic past are finally unlocked.
REVIEW: The first word that came out of my mouth as I’ve finished reading this story was WOW… and then I exhaled.
If you’re like me, one of those bookworms that have a need for the book to grab them from the first page, then you’re in luck if you decide to read this book. You’ll be on pins and needles ‘till the end.
For a change this story develops in 1865, Victorian era and what a contrast to Regency era it is. For some reason it looks like women suffered even worse than in the earlier years. This is the case with our heroine. This woman, as the story opens, is in hell and she’s hanging by a thread.
Lady Eva Carin not only lost her husband, but soon after suffered a loss even greater than that, a loss of her son in an accident of her making. Thomas, her brother-in-law who is now the new Lord Carin, uses her pain and devastation to his advantage and commits her to an asylum in which for the past two years she’s endured many ‘disciplinary’ treatments ordered by the woman who runs the place, such as a regular dose of opium to a point of addiction, many beatings and more.
Lord Ian Blake is back from India and as much as he dreads coming face to face with Eva, he knows that he ows her the truth about Hamilton’s death, and feel that this as his only opportunity of redeeming himself in her eyes and coming to terms with his role in it. He’s been haunted with memories of not just Hamilton’s death but also with their life as children as all three have grown up together in a wonderful home provided by Hamilton’s father, Lord Carin. He took in both Eva and Ian after their individual parents died. As they grew together, boys were always vying for love and approval of the old man but it was Hamilton who started envying the bond that had developed between his father and Ian.
Ian on the other hand hadn’t realized that his earnest admiration and love for Lord Carin was a sore point to his best friend so whatever he did to please him, Hamilton viewed it as a challenge and affront to his own character. Even Eva was in some way touched by their rivalry. While they all were aware of her duty to marry Hamilton, they also realized that she had more in common with Ian than Hamilton, but neither Eva nor Ian voiced their thoughts or feelings out loud as that would be a breach of duty and bring much hurt to the man who they both loved like a father.
Ian is shocked to find out that she’s been committed, but once he enters the hell she’s been living, he is livid and enraged. The only thing stopping him from committing murder is the thought of saving the poor creature who is now Eva.
What an awesome characterization of a woman on a brink this was. I was brought to tears as Eva goes through so many emotions, not believing her eyes or her laudanum infected mind that there is someone who cares if she’s dead or alive.
And then there’s Ian caught between his quilt over his best friend’s death and desire for the woman he always loved but could never allow himself even a dream of having.
Beside being well written and plotted, paced to perfection with many moments of hair-raising action, this is without a doubt, one of the best haunting, poignant and heart wrenching stories of love I’ve read in a while.
Bookworms, mark your calendars for February 5, 2013 and remember that as the arrival of Máire Claremont. This author is here to stay and I welcome her with open arms.
*Book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.