I don’t get a lot of ARC’s – and I’m fine with that. By buying the vast majority of my books I feel like I’m helping out authors. But I do get a few and maybe because I get so few that the ones I do get are standouts. This one was one of the rare ARC’s and once again, I was most impressed.
As a long time reader, I’ve been reading Madeline Hunter since her first medieval, By Possession, came out. I loved those medievals of hers. And then she switched to writing historicals in a much later time setting and I’ll be honest and say it got my medieval reader nose out of joint because of it. There are fewer medieval written so what became a standout author in one genre, became just one of so many others in another genre. At the same time I did understand why she switched time periods. Her original books just didn’t sell as well and while in theory we readers would rather authors stay in the genre we want them to, in reality they are out to make a living and I don’t blame them for writing in a genre that sells more books therefore making them more money.
But even though my nose was out of joint, I’ve still continued to buy her books, but many of them are languishing in the TBR pile. But in the interest of full disclosure, I was sent and ARC of Ravishing in Red. It took me a while to get to reading it and when I did start reading, I realized what I was missing with my own personal sulk. I was cutting off my own nose to spite my face. She writes darn good stories. I knew that with her medievals and she wrote one of my all time heroes in The Romantic.
Lord Sebastian Summerhays is a second son. He assumes many of the duties of his older brother Morgan after Morgan was confined to a wheelchair during the final days of the war with the French. While a former rake, Sebastian in now slightly reformed and is working towards finding out who was responsible for a shipment of bad gunpowder sent to the front, resulting in the death of many a British soldier. Most of the blame has rested on the shoulders of one Horatio Kelmsley and the resulting scandal caused him to commit suicide. But his daughter Audianna is convinced of his innocence and travels to a country inn to meet up with someone claiming to have information. Sebastian is also at the inn for the same reason and after a brief flurry of mistaken identity, they realize who the other person really is. Audrianna is the daughter of the man Sebastian blames and Sebastian is the man who Audrianna hold largely responsible for the death of her father.
Of course things happen and it gets out that the two of them spent time alone together and in order to save her reputation and his own, Sebastian offers up marriage. Although quite and unhappily attracted to him, due to the circumstances, Audrianna refuses his suit.
And the rest of the story follows after that.
What impresses me about this story is the intelligence and grown up way both Sebastian and Audrianna act. There are no histrionics from Audrianna. She intelligently ways her options and makes good and reasonable choices based on those options. She is an easy heroine to admire and route for.
Sebastian is also a fine hero. While he had a history of excess with women, he put that aside when he took on the role of responsibility. He has a good relationship with his brother Morgan, though somewhat complicated and he stands up quite fine to his overbearing mother. Time and time again, a different author could have taken a path that would have been annoying for the reader, but Ms. Hunter doesn’t. Her characters are intelligent and she keeps them that way. When Sebastian sees Audrianna in deep conversation with another man, he feels jealousy and later, when he asks who he was; Audrianna is honest with him and tells him the man in question was her former fiancé who called off the wedding due to her father’s shame. When asked if she still loves this former flame, Audrianna is honest and forthright and says no, if she had she wouldn’t have married Sebastian. It’s more than refreshing to see the lead characters talk things out, being honest with each other in the process.
As you just read, Audrianna does give in and marry Sebastian and then the author does something else well. She allows them time to learn to love each other as they get to know each other in this unexpected marriage. While the attraction between them is very strong, the love takes a bit longer to develop. And this is the way it should be methinks.
This is the first book in a new series and already I’m anticipating the next one – and the one after that. I’ll also be tracking down the previous ones in the TBR pile and reading them – my snit being over and done with.
Grade: 4.75 out of 5