STORY: With her pale hair and slim figure, Olivia Donovan looks as fragile as fine china, and has been treated as such by her sisters ever since a childhood bout with malaria. But beneath her delicate façade, Olivia guards a bold, independent spirit and the kind of passionate desires proper young ladies must never confess…
It was a reckless wager, and one Max couldn’t resist: seduce the alluring Olivia or forfeit part of his fortune. Yet the wild, soon-to-be Duke never imagined he’d fall in love with this innocent beauty. Nor could he have guessed that a dangerously unpredictable rival would set out to destroy them both. Now, Max must beat a Madman at his own twisted game-or forever lose the only woman to have ever won his heart.
REVIEW: This is the second Donovan sister story, and in this one we get familiar with Olivia. She is twenty-one, and as the blurb states, besides being a stunner, she’s the sister that survived the malaria, and everyone is treating her with kid gloves. They’re all worried that even the least bit of exertion would cause her malaria to rear its ugly head, and have her succumb to it. Olivia however isn’t much worried as she’s always ready for it by making sure that she has her medication with her at all times, and she experimented by running around their property in Antigua while unobserved. She is the sister that is quiet content and resigned to being the ‘aunt spinster’ and living with Serena and her family. I actually admired that in her. She showed some strength of character by making that decision and accepting her condition as a part of who she is and not using it as a ‘crutch’.
Max Buchanan, the Marquis of Hasley is thirty years old and considered by many a rake. For someone who will eventually become a Duke, he’s a bit aloof and doesn’t really want it, since he’s the heir to his uncle who thinks him unworthy of the title. From the first time we meet him, while he sets his eyes on Olivia, we’re taken with him because of his honest and stunned observation and reaction to Olivia and his visceral reaction to Lord Fenwick’s admission of a failed attempt to seduce her…
And then he does THE most stupid thing in the world-betting Fenwick that he would succeed in what the other man failed to do! WHAT?! Are you serious?! WHY?! What possessed him to do such a thing to someone he was just mooning over, AND knowing without a doubt to be an innocent woman?! He knows that he NEVER intends to marry anyone because he feels that he would become like his father and be cruel to his wife, so how in the world does he justify his deliberate seduction of this young woman? That was where I started to have a problem with his character. I love our heroes flawed, but I also like to see the redeeming qualities in them, and I just couldn’t reconcile myself with Max’s decision to make a wager that would eventually carry huge consequences.
From that point on my feelings toward both, Olivia and Max, turned lukewarm. Their scenes with each other should have been sweet and warm, and if I chose to ignore the ‘elephant in the room’ they were. But then, they had ‘the talk’…Olivia was still sticking to her decision to be a spinster, while he still wanted to be ‘the bachelor’, yet both agree to enjoy each other (and on her sister’s suggestion, she asks him to ‘withdraw’ so she wouldn’t end up with child) and that night he ‘takes’ her twice, with a ‘position’ that for a virgin, and as innocent as she is, I just couldn’t buy.
However, I have to give Ms. Haymore kudos for the secondary plot of wife abuse of Beatrice Fenwicke, the wife of Lord Fenwick, whose evil and madness was left running rampant for the longest time. Ms. Haymore did an excellent job in telling this young woman’s story and I hope she decides to give her an HEA.
The third Donovan book will be coming up soon, and I will read it, but I hope it will be written reminiscent of her earlier books, ‘A Hint of Wicked’, ‘A Touch of Scandal’ and ‘A Season of Seduction’. If you haven’t read any of those, I highly recommend them, especially the first two.
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* I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*