by Stacy Reid
Series: Rebellious Desires #2
Also in this series: Duchess by Day, Mistress by Night
Publisher: Entangled: Scandalous
Publication Date: April 9, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
For years, Daphne Wentworth, Countess Carrington has loved her powerful, enigmatic husband, despite the fact that they married under less than ideal circumstances. But no more. Finally at her breaking point, Daphne intends to create a scandal so big, her austere husband will have no choice but to divorce her. Except everything goes awry when he surprises her with the last thing she expected.
Sylvester Wentworth, Earl of Carrington, has returned to London for one reason—to seduce his wife. After a near-death experience, he is in need of an heir and means to make his marriage a real one. To his shock, though, his wicked, beautiful countess wants the exact opposite, and he must now do everything possible to entice his countess to stay forever.
This is the second in the Rebellious Desires series, and my second book by Ms. Reid. While I liked this one as well, I think I prefer the first one for various reasons I’ll outline in my review.
To start out with, though, one fascinating subplot was that Sylvester was an ardent abolitionist, traveling to Jamaica to work on freeing slaves from plantations. While I knew that England outlawed slavery long before the US, I hadn’t known that any slaves that arrived in England were immediately freed. It’s his work as an abolitionist that has made him many enemies, and the latest near-death assassination attempt has given him a new view on his heir-less life and sends him back to England to his estranged wife, Daphne. Unbeknownst to her until the night of their wedding, Sylvester was blackmailed into marrying her, and he’s taken it out on her with six years of coldness and indifference. Daphne herself is tired of a lonely and unloved existence, and also looking to make a change – but unlike Sylvester’s hopes of an “agreeable marriage” and an heir, she wants a divorce.
“’I tore it to pieces because I know I am falling in love you, and I could not hurt you. If you cannot trust me to behave with integrity and honor…that is not an agreeable marriage, my lord,’ she said hoarsely.”
While I liked Daphne, and certainly felt awful for her predicament, she had a tendency to come off as a bit too naive and passive to me. Sylvester, on the other hand, is too passionate in some ways, and I was so annoyed at his treatment of her that it took a while before I started to warm to him. There’s a lot of blame being slung around, and I certainly don’t mean to say that Sylvester didn’t have plenty of reason to be upset and angry, but the fact that he kept taking it out on Daphne, that he couldn’t find it in himself to trust her, that he felt it necessary to trick her into spending time with him with a promise he had no intention of keeping, was disappointing to me. Eventually, after pretty much 90% of the book, I did come to grudgingly accept that Sylvester and Daphne were really very suited to each other.
OK, so that all sounds particularly horrible when I lay it out like that, but, to be honest, this whole sham-marriage-into-real-marriage trope is a favorite of mine, and I think it was particularly believable in this case why they were so at odds with each other. As in the first book in the series, the chemistry between the two is smoking hot, and there was enough delightful angst to balance it out. Even with my annoyance with the characters’ actions, I found it hard to put the book down, and I wanted more when it was over!
Overall, while I didn’t enjoy this as much as the first book, and while I had problems with Sylvester being a ruthless insensitive jerk, I enjoyed reading the book and will definitely be picking up the next one!