Read with: iBooks for iPad
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Hero: James Michael Patrick
Heroine: Emma Mary Catherine Langolet
Date of Publication: December 28, 1994
Started On: September 9, 2013
Finished On: September 10, 2013
So what happens when I finish an Anne Stuart novel and wonder what to read next? Like a junkie with an addict, I WANT the next fix from Anne Stuart which plagues me until I give in. I must be thankful for the fact that there are so many books by her that I have still yet to read. Though I have mostly focused on her contemporary romances to-date, that changed with Never Kiss A Rake that was published this year, that I reviewed previously. Since To Love A Dark Lord is a romance that is loved by many, I thought I would get my next dose of Anne Stuart by plunging into the first ever romance that Anne Stuart attempted to write featuring a dark hero.
James Michael Patrick, the Earl of Killoran is a man who is haunted by too many nightmares, that he has retreated into his own shell, a man who many thinks is beyond redemption or saving. James himself knows that he is as such and he does what he does for reasons that he alone understands. Though lately life has become one bore fest after another and little has provided amusement for him except for hiding his pain behind consumption of spirits, when James stumbles onto Emma who accidentally stabs her lustful uncle to death, life as James knows it changes. Taking the blame for her uncle’s death is something James does on a whim, for the mere amusement the deed brings him.
When Emma is rescued by the sinfully handsome man who doesn’t spare her a backward glance before striding out of her life just like he swooped in to save her from her imminent death, Emma doesn’t know what to do with all the freedom that beckons her after a life spent in enforced solitude from which it had felt that there would be no escape from. Coming to the understanding that her savior wants her to forget him gives her the blow necessary to take her fate into her own hands, which inevitably brings her into the hands of none other than James himself, this time rescuing her to his own intents and purpose to serve as the pawn that would draw out his long time enemy, to enact the revenge that he has been waiting for a long time.
Emma though an inexperienced virginal heroine makes for a swell character. Her gutsy determination in the face of everything that is totally alien to her is to be admired. The fact that Emma understands the pain that is buried deep inside of James was the one factor that had me falling head over heels in love with her. Emma, though she doesn’t know her place in James’s heart or life, nevertheless does everything she possibly can to be there for him, without asking for anything back from him in return.
James of course, turned out to be the type of hero that I absolutely love to read about. There is a certain elegance to the heroes that Anne Stuart creates, even with that coldness that resides inside of them, that aloofness that drives readers crazy to find that one redeemable aspect about him that serves to be the pivotal aspect of the story. And with James, her very first hero with dark elements certainly did not disappoint.
As many reviewers have already pointed out, there is such a wealth of pain inside of James that it is hard not to want to reach out to him and wrap him in your embrace so that you might absorb some of that pain into your own self. James might never wish to think of himself as the knight without all that shining armor who strides to Emma’s rescue time and yet again. But something about Emma calls to him on a baser level, something he fights with every fiber in his being to prevent himself from succumbing to the lure that she presents. If not for the fact that Emma understands all this and more when it comes to James, and is just as helplessly drawn to him as he is to her, James would not have managed to find the sort of love he finally does in Emma’s embrace.
When you read an Anne Stuart, you always tend to have this emotional whirlpool viciously rolling around inside of you. And that tends to expand with the kind of angst that only a dark hero can deliver and I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect read that balanced out the darkness, the angst and later on a love that held me enthralled and going back to read the epilogue tucked in at the end time and yet again. I don’t remember how many times I read the epilogue which was short, yet brought to light the life of James and Emma 9 years down the line. If the story hadn’t already been embedded deep into my heart, the epilogue certainly would have sealed the deal for me.
I would be remiss in my review if I were not to mention the secondary romance that takes place in To Love a Dark Lord. The romance that buds to life between the 23 year old Nathaniel Hepburn, a distant cousin of sorts of James whom he takes under his wings in order to teach him a thing or two about depravity, who ends up falling in love with the very unusual and extremely beautiful Lady Barbara Fitzhugh. Theirs was a romance that moved me to tears, Barbara’s story one that I wished I had gotten to read in a full length novel just dedicated to her and Nathan.
Recommended for those who love their heroes dark and a bit twisted. And definitely for fans of Anne Stuart.
Final Verdict: If you are fan of Anne Stuart, this is an absolute must-not-miss!
The house was still and quiet. And somewhere, faintly overhead, he heard the sound of music. Emma was playing again, something soft and lilting and unexpectedly sad. A moment passed before he recognized it. It was an old Irish lullaby, one he’d heard from his nurse thirty years ago.
And James Michael Patrick, the fourth Earl of Killoran, the man without weakness, honor, or decency, closed his eyes in quiet desperation.
It wasn’t one kiss, it wasn’t twenty, it was a long series of unending kisses, leading one into another, so that she barely had time to begin to regain her sanity when he stripped it away once more. He kissed her eyelids, the side of her mouth, the beating pulse at the base of her neck. He kissed her nose and her chin, he bit her earlobe, and then he covered her mouth once more, kissing her with a devastating thoroughness that had her damp and trembling in his arms.
He kissed her temple, her cheekbone, her angular nose. And then in the shadowy night his mouth sought hers.
It was light and darkness, sin and forgiveness, hell and redemption. She put her arms around his waist, pulling him closer, closer still. She could feel the warmth of his strong back through the fine linen shirt; she could taste brandy on his mouth. His hand was between them, against her breast, and she hated the layers of cloth that separated them.
She started past him, and he kept his focus inward, thinking of nothing at all. He would have made it if her chemise hadn’t brushed against his hand. If she hadn’t paused one dangerous second too long.
He caught her, no longer caring what he was doing. She cupped his face, reaching up to kiss his mouth, and it was the last straw. He ripped at her clothes, ripped at his, a maddened beast, shoving her down on the hardwood floor, covering her with his strong body.
He reached down and caught her thighs, lifting them up around him. It was too late now. He’d fought it, and her, and now he was the one who had lost. He’d given in to a need so powerful it overwhelmed all others, and all he could do was revel in the feel of her hot, tight body around his, the furious pounding of her heart against his bare chest, her fingers digging into his back, scratching at him, tearing at him, as he thrust into her again and again, searching for a part of him he’d lost long, long ago.
He understood her choked, breathy little cry, so different from the studied sounds she usually made. He knew her restlessness, her heat, and her need. He knew how to love her. And when the first explosion hit her, it was so powerful, so unexpected, that she screamed, clutching at him, and his formidable control vanished, and he pushed deep, holding her, filling her, giving to her instead of taking.
He thought he could prolong it, but he was helpless against the tide of need that swept over him. He needed her, needed to take her in this bed, this house, this land. He needed to thrust deep and fill her with his seed. He needed to claim her, and claim his heritage. He’d fought it for too long.
He lifted himself above her, staring down at her as the bed rocked beneath his powerful, rhythmic thrusts. Her eyes were open as well, looking up at him, and then her eyes fluttered closed as her body convulsed around him, and he came as well, rigid in her arms, no longer fighting it, and her, and his own lonely heart.