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Lord of Wicked Intentions (Lost Lords of Pembrook) Mass Market Paperback – April 30, 2013
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From the Back Cover
Three young heirs, imprisoned by anunscrupulous uncle, escaped—to the sea,to the streets, to faraway battle—awaiting the day when they wouldreturn to reclaim their birthright . . .
Lord Rafe Easton may be of noble blood, but survival taughthim to rely only on himself and to love no one. Yet when he setseyes on Miss Evelyn Chambers, an earl's illegitimate daughter,he is determined to have her, if only as his mistress . . .
After her father's death, Evelyn Chambers never imaginedshe would be sold to the highest bidder, yet circumstancesgive her little choice but to accept the lord's indecent proposal. Rafe is wealthy, as well as ruthless. Yet his coldnessbelies deep passion and deeper secrets. If she must be his,Evelyn intends to lay bare everything the Lord of Pembrookis hiding. But dark discoveries threaten to destroythem both until unexpected love leadsthe last lost lord home . . .
About the Author
Lorraine Heath always dreamed of being a writer. After graduating from the University of Texas, she wrote training manuals, press releases, articles, and computer code, but something was always missing. When she read a romance novel, she not only became hooked on the genre, but quickly realized what her writing lacked: rebels, scoundrels, and rogues. She’s been writing about them ever since. Her work has been recognized with numerous industry awards, including RWA’s prestigious RITA®. Her novels have appeared on the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists.
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The premise has an off-the-charts high Ick Factor. Evelyn is the sheltered, pampered by blow of the Earl of Wortham and his long deceased mistress; when the earl dies, his son auctions Evelyn, and her virginity, off to the highest bidder. Only Evelyn doesn't get it: she thinks she's being introduced around as a potential bride (which, given the cruel way her brother treats her, makes her a little bit Too Stupid to Live).
Lord Rafe Easton is the highest bidder. We're meant not to hold this against him, because he's not as boorish and crude as the other gents, and because he's not actually paying money for her (just forgiving her brother's gambling debt). He is so offended by the spectacle of the auction that it almost seems that, by "rescuing" her, he is being noble. (Feminist Angel calls foul, because just like all the other men there, he intends to make Evelyn his mistress and not give her any say in the matter, so she has not been saved from sexual slavery: he's just a kinder, gentler Master than the alternatives.)
Early in their acquaintance, Rafe takes Evelyn to St. Giles to show her the extreme poverty and degradation there. (Feminist Angel cringes at the not-so-subtle "lesson" for Evelyn: isn't it better to be a whore for one man, in a clean, fancy house, than it is to whore for many in these dirty streets? But make no mistake, girl: your only choice is to get on your back.)
Then (because he has a Tortured Past, croons Fantasy Devil by way of excuse), Rafe has to counter every tender impulse he feels toward Evelyn, and every kindness she offers him, with a cruel, humiliating reminder that they are not lovers, he cannot love her, he will not give her the respectable life she craves: she is his mistress, he will use her when and how he wants until he's done with her, and so long as she toes the line and doesn't leave first, he'll make it worth her while by settling a house and fortune on her when he goes. Icky, Icky, Icky!
It is a testament to Lorraine Heath's skill as a storyteller that I didn't throw the book at the wall at the sensible urging of Feminist Angel. Because Fantasy Devil is right: despite the Ick Factor, this story is full of delicious, seductive, romantic, warm, fuzzy, gooey, melty Feelings. Rafe's character arc, overcoming his Tortured Past to learn how to love and be loved in return, is the kind of emotionally satisfying transformation we romance addicts live for. I didn't like Evelyn nearly as well--(she goes from being Too Stupid To Live at the start of the book to unrealistic Mary Sue perfection by the end, providing Rafe sublime sexual and emotional healing despite her total innocence)--but she does grow a bit of a backbone by the end, so I'll cut her some slack.
Whether you will enjoy this book may depend upon whether Feminist Angel or Fantasy Devil holds more sway with you. For me, Feminist Angel made me deeply uncomfortable with this book, but the notion of a benevolent Master holds some appeal, at least in fantasy, so I was able to enjoy the romance despite my discomfort. For others, Evelyn's lack of agency may be a hard limit.