ORDER A COPY: Entwined (Darkest London)
Publisher: Forever Romance
Publishing Date: November 5, 2013
Ebook: Says 40 pages, seemed like more.
Rating: 4 stars
Eamon Evernight has always lived in his older brother’s shadow. While his brother is fair of hair and lithe in body, Eamon sparks fear with his fiery locks and massive frame-and rumors of a mysterious power. But when his brother has the good fortune to be betrothed to a beautiful stranger, it’s Eamon’s help-and quick wit and romantic heart–that he needs. Eamon agrees to write the noble lady…a generous offer that will forever leave him a changed man.
Lady Luella Jane Moran has no interest in an arranged marriage and tries valiantly to dissuade her betrothed from afar. Though her own letters plainly state her case, the words her husband-to-be writes her leave her aching for his touch. Will Lu give in to the desire the missives have kindled within her? Or will desire turn cold when she discovers their true author?
Aidan Evernight received a letter from his intended bride, a bride arranged between the families, begging him to rebel with her against the archaic arrangement and set them both free. But Aidan wanted a bride in name only so he could have someone to keep his home and allow him to lead his own life. Aiden begged his brother Eamon to write to her and convince her that she needed to go through with the marriage when she came of age.
Except when Eamon agreed to assist his brother, his first desire was to convince the young woman to continue to fight the arrangement. He didn’t like the idea of his brother trapping the girl in a loveless marriage for his own benefit. But from their first correspondence, their wits and intelligence meshed and began a four year love affair between Eamon and Lu, and as the time came for Lu to meet her intended husband, Eamon’s mistake hit him full force. He had woo’d the woman he loves for someone else to possess, and he would have to step back and watch her be joined forever to his brother.
Eamon had lost all hope, but when fate intervenes on his behalf, will he be able to confess his fraud to Lu and claim her as his own, and if he does, will she ever forgive him?
Eamon was a quiet, gentle man but he was also very large with shocking red hair. His appearance along with his father’s ranting of him being a demon’s spawn, made the Town’s people wary of him. So it is not surprising that his romance begins with letters allowing his intelligence and his humor to shine through before Lu ever meets him and allowing both to form strong bonds of love before ever meeting face to face.
Of course, we have the whole Cyrano-type storyline where his brother doesn’t find out about the four years of letter writing until just before Lu shows up at their door. Now I adored sweet Eamon and thoroughly enjoyed the story, although I did have a few issues. Eamon’s mother died in childbirth bearing him, the younger son, and his father held him responsible for his mother’s death and treated him like the proverbial ‘redheaded stepchild.’ So why was Eamon the smarter and more educated of the two brothers? Aidan couldn’t read and write no matter how hard the tutor’s tried to teach him, which is why Eamon had to write to Lu. Maybe he was dyslexic?? Aiden also had an English accent while Eamon had a Irish lilt. They grew up together, how did that happen? And although Eamon and Lu end up getting married (It’s a romance. I’m not giving anything away.), it bothered me that on their wedding night, Eamon is hesitant since he steps in for his brother and he believe Lu loves Aidan, and he tries to get the unpleasantness over for her as quickly as possible where he barely lifts her nightgown, in/out and he leaves the room as quickly as possible. It wasn’t even just because they were both virgins that it was awkward. I felt like she agreed to marry you, she agreed to not put off the consummation of the marriage, and you couldn’t start off with a little kiss? Having sex with her is okay, but a kiss is too personal? It was awkward for them and it was awkward for me, the reader. Later in the story when we get to the kissing part, they do just fine.
Other than the awkward consummation and a few contrived plot twists, I like the way Eamon and Lu meshed. This is a novella from a regency/paranormal themed series. If you have not read the series, you can still enjoy this story. It seems Eamon is a minor character to the Darkest London series. The last few sentences point out who he is, but for the life of me, I can’t remember the exact content from the Winterblaze story and my review copy disappeared long ago so I couldn’t flip through it. Obviously, it wasn’t necessary to know that to enjoy Lu and Eamon’s story, and for only $.99 (on Amazon), it was a sweet romance with enough of a plot twist to make it interesting novella.
Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
“Keep going that way and you’ll find the garden wall.”
Lu came to a sudden halt at the sound of the deep voice. It wasn’t Aidan’s; his was a bit lighter in tone. No, this voice was warmer and tinged with more of an Irish lilt than her fiance’s well-bred English diction.
A note of humor colored it as the man continued, “Besides, the stables are in the other direction.”
She turned and found Eamon Evernight sitting in the shadows with his back against a large rowan tree. The younger Evernight brother hadn’t spoken a word in the house. He’d simply eased away from conversation until he’d blended into the woodwork. A fine trick for one so large as he. But Lu had been aware of him, or his stare rather. She’d felt it linger across her neck when her back was turned and heat her checks when she’d faced his way.
Oddly, he never outright stared, but tracked her from under his lashes. Which made it all the more unnerving that she’d known he’d been watching her.
He watched her now as well, his gaze steady and waiting.
“How did you know I was headed for the stables?” She’d been out of her room and headed for them as soon as the weather had cleared.
The corners of his eyes crinkled just a touch. “I recall hearing you had an affinity for horses.” His lids lowered, a slow perusal that had her skin prickling. “Seems inevitable that you’d suss them out as soon as you could.”
The way he spoke to her, as if to tease; she did not know why, but it roused her. Why hadn’t Aidan taunted her in this manner? She’d expected it of him, even hoped for such an exchange.
“Oh?” she said lightly. “And what if I was merely going for a walk?”
“Well, your muttering ‘where the bloody hell are the stables’ might have provided me with further clues.”
She laughed. “I must say, Mr. Evernight, your powers of observation are keen. Though it wasn’t very nice of you to repeat a lady’s indiscretion to her.” Good Lord, she had been swearing like a stable hand, hadn’t she? Ladies did not do such things. She’d have to repeat that fact until she remembered. Damn it.
A deep, slow chuckle drifted over to her. Strangely, she thought that Eamon Evernight did not laugh often. Which was a shame because it was a very nice sound.
“I won’t think any less of you, I promise,” he said. “Especially when I have uttered a few of those words a few times myself today.”
Shaking her head slightly, Lu stepped closer, bringing herself under the shade of the tree, and Eamon came into better focus.
My, but he was large. His shoulders were twice the width of hers. His arms beefy with muscle, now on display behind the thin, improper lawn shirt he wore. Massive, scarred, and callused hands hung limply upon his bent knees. She looked away from them and into his face.
His coloring was unfortunate. One could not shy away from it. Vibrant, angry red hair swirled into a thick wave from his crown, giving the impression of a flame. On this towering brute of a man, the color was excessive. And not at all fashionable. Indeed most people in England looked upon red hair as a defect. Ridiculous notion, but one that did not abate. Regardless, her preference was for golden hair and light blue eyes.
“I merely wanted to brush down the horses, perhaps have a chat with them,” she said to him. “I am quite accustomed to caring for them, you know.”
The corners of his mouth curled in a hint of a smile. “It’s the grooms, you see. They do not yet know you. If you wander in, they won’t know what to do with themselves.”
The quiet way in which he spoke was firm but not reproachful. Even so, her shoulders slumped. No servant wanted an unfamiliar woman drifting into their territory. Especially the stables. How long had it taken her to win over the hands at her father’s stables? “Well, I suppose I shall make do with roaming the garden.”
She must have made a face, for he smiled then, and his face was transforming to something almost boyish, with little dimples appearing on each side of his wide mouth. Strong, white teeth flashed in the shadows.
“Ah, now, don’t go fretting. You simply need an able escort. I can take you to the stables, if you’d like—” He stopped, his high cheeks coloring in that strong, ginger way that he must abhor. “That is, Aidan can escort you, of course.” His gaze settled on his hands.
Yes, Aidan could take her. Only the thought made the horrid lump within her chest grow. She did not want to face the man who called himself Aidan yet treated her as if she were a stranger.
“I’ll go fetch him, shall I?” He moved to get up, and Lu put out her hand.
“Oh, no. Don’t bother. Truly, it’s all right.”
An uncomfortable silence descended.
“May I sit with you, Mr. Evernight?” Lu did not know what had prompted her to ask. And when he looked at her with his dark brows raised in surprise, she wished she could take back the request. But only a little.
There was something oddly comforting about Eamon Evernight. She fancied that whatever she said or did, he would not sit in judgment.
“Call me Eamon,” he said, shifting over so that she could sit with her back supported by the tree. “Mr. Evernight makes me think of my father.”
Lu arranged herself, and her skirts, at the base of the tree. There was not much room, Eamon being as large as he was, and their shoulders were close enough to feel his body heat. “So then you did not get along with your father either?”
“Either?” Eamon frowned.
“I merely meant that Aidan told me he did not have a close relationship with your father, and it sounded like you did not either.”
Eamon cleared his throat. “Right, of course. Well, ours was not the best of accords.” With a distracted air, he scratched the back of his head, and the curve of his biceps bulged against the tight stretch of his sleeve.
By Saint Joan, she shouldn’t be looking at the man’s muscles, or noting the way they moved. She bit her lip in annoyance and tried to focus on his face. But that did no good. For she realized, with a bit of a start, that he was quite handsome when one looked past that flaming red hair. Classically so.
His nose was strong and straight, his jaw squared and graceful.
She was staring now. She knew it, yet Lu could not help but keep looking. To find such masculine beauty here was like discovering a secret treasure.
With such bright red hair, one would expect him to have freckles and pale eyes, but his skin was mellow ivory, and beneath sweeping brows of auburn, his eyes were deep, saturated cobalt blue, such as found in Chinese porcelain.
Looking into them, she felt a strange sort of hitch in her chest, as if someone had stolen her breath for a moment.
Perhaps she made a sound or something showed in her expression, for his brows drew together and a small half-smile pulled at his lips. “What is it?” His voice was soft and searching, as if he worried he’d offended her.
“You’re…” she trailed off in a mad blush.
“I’m what?” he prompted gentle, yet looking a bit apprehensive.
Lovely. Rare. Unexpected.