Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

REVIEW: An Heir of Deception by Beverley Kendall

Dear Ms. Kendall,

It was a foregone conclusion I’d read An Heir of Deception, your latest entry into The Elusive Lords series. I’ve read the first two and novella and while neither the second book nor the novella rocked my socks like your debut novel A Taste of Desire, I’ve had fun reading them all. The heroes are gorgeous, dominant males with more self-confidence than Tony Stark, and are golden gods in bed. The women who love them are beautiful, smart mouthed, and able to orgasm on a single thrust. The course of their loves never runs smooth, the sex is always magnificent, and the happy endings plausible.  I liked An Heir of Deception—although the protagonists Charlotte and Alex aren’t quite as sizzling as Amelia and Thomas (the leads in A Taste of Desire—I needed a fan while I read that book!)—and found it a good addition to the series.

An Heir of Deception by Beverley KendallCharlotte Rutherford has loved Alex Hastings from the moment she first saw him, when she was sixteen and he was twenty-six. He resisted her charms for years until, finally, when she turned eighteen, he seduced her, and fell as deeply in love with her as she was with him.  The two were to be married at St. Paul’s Cathedral in a lavish ceremony but, as Alex arrived at the church, Charlotte was nowhere to be found. Her brother James, Alex’s best friend, told him Charlotte fled, leaving James a note:

“She wrote to beg my forgiveness for any scandal or shame her actions may bring upon the family but…says she can’t marry you.”

Alex is wrecked, ruined, destroyed, and hung up to dry when Charlotte leaves. He spends the next three years of his life a step away from total self-destruction. He knows, from a letter she sent him and from what he hears from her family, she’s settled in America. It’s only a near death experience—he fell into the Thames while soused and caught a near-killing fever—that knocks some sanity into him. He quits drinking, devotes himself to his estates, and vows to never let anyone near his heart again.

Then, at the beginning of An Heir of Deception, five years after she left him brideless at St. Paul’s, Charlotte returns… and she’s not alone. With her is her son, Nicholas, whom Alex takes one look at and knows without a doubt the child is his. (Nicholas apparently is the spitting image of Alex’s deceased older brother Charles.) Alex is consumed with rage. He can barely contain his anger at Charlotte—not only did she destroy his life, she stole his son’s early years from him. He vows to punish her and to claim Nicholas as his own.

Charlotte returned only because she was told, erroneously, her twin sister, Catherine, was on the brink of death. Charlotte is shocked to learn not only is Catherine in the pink, but Alex now lives in the manor next door and, the very day Charlotte arrives, is in the house picking up some papers for James. Charlotte can barely breathe when she sees Alex again.

Charlotte stood frozen, ensnared as deftly and completely as a rabbit in the presence of a rattler preparing to strike. She watched as he proceeded down the seemingly endless corridor toward her.

Senses starved for the flesh-and-blood man greedily tried to take him in all at once, hoarding away every minute detail to take back with her to feed the lonely nights when dreams and memories were all she’d have…and yet still not enough.

Save the measured fall of his footsteps, silence reigned with a parasitic presence that made speech a novelty and breathing a luxury. Charlotte could do nothing but wait in statue-like stillness while her heart picked up its pace. To even blink would have created too much noise.

Charlotte still pines for Alex like Buttercup pined for Wesley, but, when he actually appears, she’s completely unprepared for him to instantly see though her “it’s some other guy’s kid” tale. Realizing she has to come to some sort of terms with Alex over Nicholas, she seeks Alex out–he’s ignoring her–and tries to tell him why she abandoned him at the altar. Alex tells her he couldn’t give a damn about her or her reasons—he wants his kid and nothing more from her.

He’d let his heart and body rule him when he’d courted her, made love to her, gotten on his knee and asked her to marry him. He wouldn’t ever be that naïve again. In all his future dealings with Charlotte Rutherford, they would play by his rules and currently the only thing he wanted from her was his son.

However, given there’s no way Alex can suddenly have a four year old heir, he opts instead to backdate a fictitious marriage to Charlotte—it’s amazing what a man with money and powerful friends can do. Within days of Charlotte’s return, she and Nicholas have moved into Alex’s home, she’s his wife, and he’s working on winning over their son.

Initially, Alex treats Charlotte like the vile scum he’s determined to see her as. He knows she’s wildly warm for his form, but, he, determined to protect himself from being hurt by her again, torments her physically—an abrupt kiss here, a suddenly aborted lengthy make-out session there. There’s just one problem with his strategy: Alex is as blasted by lust as Charlotte. He wants her in his bed more than a tween wants an iPhone and, as each day she sleeps under his roof, in the very next room, he believes less and less in the efficacy of his “celibacy is swell” philosophy. His desire to remain non-conjugal is also constantly derailed by Charlotte who wants to be Alex’s wife in every way possible.

An Heir of Deception is hard to put down once begun. Not only is the sexual build-up beautifully done, the reasons Charlotte left are compelling. Those who’ve read the earlier books in the series know Charlotte and Catherine are by-blows of James’s father, an earl. It’s never been clear, however, who the girls’ mother was. Charlotte and Catherine found out this information a month before Charlotte was to marry Alex. Charlotte’s fear her unacceptable parentage might be made public is the reason she ran. The 19th century British peerage was an unforgiving lot; Charlotte trusts neither the ton nor, sadly, Alex, to not damn her and those close to her for her lineage. She left, in fact, because she received a letter stating if she married Alex, the letter-writer would expose the sisters’ damning pedigree to the press and would, by doing so, cause great harm to Alex, James, and the others Charlotte loves.

I liked both Charlotte and Alex, even when they were stubbornly idiotic. They are a captivating couple, full of passion, love, and will. They don’t find their way to trust with ease but that doesn’t keep them from making love, working to co-parent, and demanding from the other better behavior. The dialogue in this book flows smoothly and it’s effortless to follow the shifts in feeling the characters undergo.

“I’ll make it better for you next time,” he said, his heated breath next to her ear.

She laughed lightly and pushed the tangle of her hair from her eyes. “I don’t know I’d survive if you made it better.”

A low laugh rumbled from his throat as he ran his hand over her long, tousled locks. The years apart hadn’t changed this between them. In fact, their lovemaking had only gotten better, more intense.

“May I ask a question?” he asked after a minute of contented silence.

Angling her head around to regard him, she replied, “But of course.”

“What was Nicholas like as a baby?”

Charlotte shifted in his arms until she faced him. Clasping the narrow indent of her waist, he pulled her until their hips were flush, his member lying just above the nest of hair of her sex. He was already semi-erect.

“He was a good baby. At four months he was sleeping through the night. By seven months he was crawling and he took his first steps at eleven months.”

A faint smile curved his mouth; not in anger or sadness, it appeared to be more one of regret. Charlotte looked deeply into his gray eyes and her heart ached for him.

“And when did he begin to speak?”

Charlotte found herself laughing softly, remembering the sweet sounds of Nicholas’s baby babble. “The moment he came into the world it felt like. But if you’re speaking of words one could comprehend, I believe that occurred when he was nine months. It’s difficult to remember exactly when.”

“He’s a wonderful child,” Alex said after a pause.

Her heart swelled and then lodged itself in her throat. In terms of compliments, it was the greatest he’d ever given her. “Yes he is. And Alex, he thinks you are wonderful too.” Nicholas thought his father hung the sun, the moon and the stars. It did not hurt that Alex was making every attempt to win his son’s affections. Two days ago, he’d begun to teach him to fish.

Alex swallowed and inhaled a prolonged breath. “Tell me about your life in America.” He spoke quietly and watched her beneath a hooded gaze.

My big complaint with the novel is the identity of the blackmailer. I just couldn’t believe the person responsible would have done such a thing. Other readers will have to make their own judgments. Fortunately, the identity of the original-letter writer, when revealed, has little impact on the overall plot. I do think, however, that Charlotte’s parentage, were it made public, would be ruinous. In this book, the past stays in the past—it has to for Charlotte, Alex, and their family to retain their place in society.  The next book will be, I suspect, Catherine’s story and I’m interested to see if such a big secret is able to be kept one as time goes on.

I love your books in large part because they are wonderfully sexy. As I read An Heir of Deception, I gave less truck than I might usually to perfect prose and sense of place. I looked less at the philosophical issues upon which you built your plot that I might have in another novel. Don’t misunderstand me—An Heir of Deception is well-written and seems Regency real. But, that’s not what I took away from its pages. I just enjoyed the hell out of Alex, Charlotte, their lust, their love, and their battle to live happily ever after. This book is a happy B read for me. It was such fun to read, I’m now re-reading A Taste of Desire…fan in hand.

Dabney

 

 

 

AmazonBN

I loved romances when, back in the mid 70's, in junior high, I read every Barbara Cartland novel I could check out from the library. Then, thanks to a savvy babysitter, I got my hands on the hot stuff. To this day I can remember how astonishingly steamy I found Rosemary Rogers' Sweet Savage Love. I abandoned romance when I went to college and didn't pick one up again until 2007 when I got my first Kindle. Since then, I’ve read countless romances; loved many, liked more, hated some. Most of what I read is historical and contemporary romance, but I’m open to almost any genre. I like my books to have sizzle, wit, and plots that make sense. I’d take sexy over sweet any day. I’m a sucker for smart heroes and smart-mouthed heroines. When not reading or writing about reading, or wishing I could rule the world, I'm meddling in the lives of my kids--I have four, ages 17 to 21--, managing my husband's practice, doing bossy volunteer work, and hanging out with Dr. Feelgood.

9 Comments

  1. deputman
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 14:49:30

    A Taste of Desire is actually the second book. Sinful Surrender was her debut.

    ReplyReply

  2. Dabney
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 15:16:41

    @deputman: I actually know that! I read them in the wrong order, however, and so I read A Taste of Desire first. Thanks for pointing that out!

    ReplyReply

  3. Pam
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 15:47:07

    I was stunned when the blackmailer was revealed. I did not see that one coming. The writing is good and the story was rich and diverse.
    I too liked Alex and Charlotte, the sexual tension and the painful then joyous maturing of their relationship.

    According to her website the next book is about Catherine and Lucas (the American), so perhaps the secret may be maintained :=).

    ReplyReply

  4. Dabney
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 15:48:43

    @Pam: I figured they were the next book but even if they run off to the New World, that secret won’t fly in the Old World. I’m genuinely curious to see what Ms. Kendall does with it.

    ReplyReply

  5. Anna Cowan
    Jun 22, 2012 @ 22:53:25

    Just reading this review I had rage on Alex’s behalf. Not sure I could overcome the fact that she runs away without at least testing his reaction…I guess she was very young – but still!

    ReplyReply

  6. Kim
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 09:26:30

    This is a very good series. I enjoyed all the books and am glad that Alex’s story has finally been published. I agree about the blackmailer: That was such a betrayal that I wonder if forgiveness would be a long time in coming. A simple apology wouldn’t ever be enough.

    The only thing I didn’t understand is if Alex went to all the trouble to backdate the signatures on the marriage registry, then why didn’t he also marry Charlotte at the same time? I found it difficult to believe that a woman in that time period would “pretend” to be married and that her family would go along with it. It’s a small quibble, however, because I liked the book.

    BTW, I could be wrong, but I don’t think Charlottes’s family did know she settled in America. If I recall correctly, she had Lucas post the letters when he was abroad, so her family wouldn’t be able to locate her. If they knew she was in America, James would have simply hired a private investigator to ascertain exactly where she settled.

    ReplyReply

  7. Dabney
    Jun 23, 2012 @ 09:40:32

    @Kim: I went back and looked and you are right. They knew she was settled somewhere and safe, but didn’t think she’d gone that far away.

    Wow, two errors in one review. I am slipping!

    ReplyReply

  8. cbackson
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 21:12:13

    I bought a couple of Kendall’s books based on this review, but I’m not sure if I can read this one-Kendall really goes full a$$hole with her heroes at points-they’re definitely capable of being remarkably verbally cruel, and I feel like the cruelty-to-grovelling ratio isn’t quite where I want it to be. I can really see how harsh the hero could be here, and I feel like he won’t redeem himself in my eyes even after the reveal.

    ReplyReply

  9. Dabney
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 21:18:50

    @cbackson: I guess, for me, Alex does redeem himself enough for Charlotte to feel loved. That was enough for me. She loves him like crazy and she just wants him back. She believes in their HEA so I did too.

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: