Sex Scene Length: 🍆🍆🍆
Audiobook Narration: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
This book was incredible. It drew me in from the very first sentence and I was engaged through ever moment of it thereafter. I feel like I have wasted years of my life neglecting to read Laura Kinsale. I’ve read the description of this book so many times. I was intrigued. I loved the sound of it. But over the years I’ve found myself enjoying older style romances less and less and I kept putting it off because of that.
What a mistake that was! Because I’m absolutely in love with Laura Kinsale after reading this. And not just with her, but with Nicholas Boulton, too. I both listened to the audiobook and read it at the same time and the experience was quite immersive. Nicholas has the most dreamy, perfect, seductive, voice. The kind you imagine every hero with. Low and masculine, and perfect for whispering sweet nothings or professing love, or spouting razor sharp witticisms befitting of the best heroes. His delivery was utter perfection. He narrated this book exactly as I wanted him to. He paused here and slowed there, sighed and drawled and groaned and got angry and hot and sweet at all the right moments. Nobody could ever be as good as him.
And listening to him as S.T. Maitland, the hero, just made S.T. feel so much more real. He came alive! So much of this book is from his perspective that having a male narrator was absolutely necessary. And beyond the narration, S.T. is without a doubt a hero to fall in love with. He’s tough and brash and full of arrogance, he’s been taken down about twenty notches after an injury that has left him deaf in one ear and with terrible vertigo. You can tell he’s lost his equilibrium, and not just physically, but mentally. Emotionally. He’s lost. Lonely. Hurting. And aching for his glory days. But inside he’s tender of heart. A glutton for punishment when it comes to women. He easily falls in love. He’s a romantic. He’s soft and lusty and has an air of desperation about him. The contrast of his new self and old self makes him so human that you cannot help but adore him.
When he meets Leigh, our heroine, he’s head over heels for her too fast, too soon. He’s professing his love ridiculously early and behaves like a fool. He has no real idea what love is. It’s infatuation. Misplaced devotion. But he grasps on to these feelings as boldly and assuredly as if they were real. And Leigh, oh, she knows he’s a fool and tells him so, constantly. He deserves the truth of it, and yet, he doesn’t because his heart is so pure. He’s motivated by goodness. And in that respect, Leigh is exactly what he needs. Because without her, he would never figure himself out enough to achieve what he wants more than anything in the world. To be loved, to have someone to love, and to have a place on this Earth where he belongs.
Leigh has also lost her way, through no fault of her own. She is on a mission of revenge and has sought out S.T. because he’s an infamous highwayman. The Prince of Midnight. He’s a legend. A misbegotten Robin Hood of sorts. And Leigh wants to learn from him because she wants to murder the the man who has murderer her family. When she finds S.T. hiding in a crumbling castle in France, he’s nothing like she expected him to be. He’s essentially a bumbling fool. His pride is in tatters. And he’s still falling headlong for women who are capable of ruining him.
Leigh, reeling from her own issues, is cold and aloof and distant, and above all, in pain right down to the depths of her soul. She’s afraid to feel. Afraid to hurt. Afraid to lose another person she could love. She’s barely managing the crushing truth of what’s happened to her family. And because of that she is hard and tough with S.T. Sometimes, unforgivably so. Sometimes, she’s difficult to like. And then you remember what she has been through and she becomes understandable, and the fact that S.T. absolutely refuses to let her push him away, makes him even more lovable than he already is. Because Leigh needs someone to stand by her. To bring her back to life and find a way to feel human again.
And towards the end they do a near about face and they end up being for each other and doing for each other in the opposite ways. And in that sense it’s so sweet, because nothing with them is one sided. They’ve figured out how to fail together and support each other and then stop failing altogether and it’s pure sweetness. Hearts galore.
There’s so much emotion in this book. From the pain that they’re both in to them falling in love, and some great sex, too. And one thing that really surprised me was that this book has a very early sex scene, with not a lot of build up to it, which generally would make me lose interest. But I didn’t lose interest. I was even more invested. The story just got better. Their connection stronger. I couldn’t wait for them to truly fall in love.
I do wish that the sex had been a little more developed than it was, but it was pretty on par with older romances. It was the romance and the emotional connection here that was the true payoff. Which is somehow boggling my mind because this book made me realize that so often the payoff is the sex and that the final culmination of hero and heroine coming together is often a bit of a failure, to be honest. I loved having a hero be upfront about his feelings, foolish and grandiose as they were, because the tension wasn’t built on waiting for a simplistic confession of three words. It was build on so much more. It was a development. It built up across the whole novel. It wasn’t a momentary realization, but a culmination of everything. It was a crescendo. And it was amazing.