The Raven's Revenge

Gina Black
The Raven's Revenge
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GreatBird Books
Release Date
January 2011
Historical Romance

England, 1663

When Katherine Welles saves the life of a highwayman, she realizes he may be the only avenue of escape from a betrothal to her villainous neighbor. But traveling under the protection of a dashing outlaw--who won't ask directions--is anything but safe. Especially when his searing hot kisses awaken a yearning for something Katherine never knew she wanted.

Nicholas Montford, the exiled Earl of Ashton, returns to England determined to reclaim his family lands. As a highwayman called the Raven, he takes revenge upon the Puritans who thrived while his family suffered. But when he kidnaps heiress Katherine Welles, thoughts of revenge take second place to kissing her soft lips and teasing the mistrust from her eyes. Can he find redemption in the arms of the woman he plans to betray?

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Aug 07, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
183 people found the following review helpful
I miss the good old days, with moonlight meetings, courtly manners and, most of all, Dashing Highwaymen. But never fear: if you, like I, think the world has lost a bit with the loss of these shadowy ne'er-do-wells, then this is the book to raise your spirits and set your heart to fluttering—I know it did for me!

Katherine Welles is desperate to escape. Following the heartbreaking death of her brother and mother, Katherine finds herself the unwilling heir of her family estate of Ashfield. Even worse, her father has betrothed her to Richard Finch, the owner of a neighboring estate and the most odious man imaginable. Katherine knows Finch wants nothing more than to possess her fortune and break her fierce spirit, but it seems impossible to escape the match.

Luck seems on her side, however, when she finds a sick, wounded man hiding on the estate and realizes that he is none other than the Raven, a notorious highwayman who has waylaid and relieved many a rich gentleman of all their clothing, yet left their money and jewels untouched. Worse yet, he was shot by none other than her unwanted fiancé. But despite his reputation, Katherine soon comes to truly care the man, whom she knows as Nicholas Eddington and is more than willing to protect him from authorities and from Finch.

When the reward on his head climbs and Nicholas declares he must move on, Katherine realizes that this might very well be her only chance to escape as well. She convinces Nicholas to convey her and her cat to the safety of her cousin in London, joining her fate with the scandalous—and wanted—thief.

Nicholas cannot believe his good luck. Not only was he saved from death by a lovely—if terribly sad—young woman, but it turns out that she is none other than the heiress to his own family's estate. For Raven is, in reality, Nicholas Edward Henry Philip Montford, Earl of Ashton, whose family was forced to flee England by Oliver Cromwell and live in poverty in Europe. Now Nicholas, as the Raven, has returned to reclaim his home, and Katherine has provided the perfect ruse.

Once they are safely away from Ashfield, he writes a letter to her father declaring that he has kidnapped the young lady and will only return her when Ashfield is turned over to him. However, the more time he spends with Katherine, the more he realizes that she is the real prize to be won—and that she has already stolen his heart away. But there is no hiding the truth of his identity and the depth of his deception for long, and when the Raven finds himself trapped, it is up to Katherine to decide if their love is strong enough to save them both.

This was a terrific, engaging read, full of adventure and tension and some unexpected, wicked humor (especially involving Katherine's adventurous cat). But ultimately, this is a story about the untold depth that each of the characters conceals. From Nicholas' despairing childhood that led him to adopt the persona of the Raven, to the strength and resolve that lies beneath all of Katherine's fear and grief, the pair grow remarkably over the course of the story.

Neither of them are wholly what they appear. Katherine herself mentions that though she was raised a Puritan, she does not consider herself one, and Nicholas eventually comes to realize that though he has been labeled a criminal, he is also strong enough to rise above his actions. We even get a view of King Charles II, whom Katherine has always been taught to revile, as an erudite, deeply considerate man, not without a sense of humor himself. I was really impressed that, as each of these bits of information were revealed and revelations were made, nothing seemed forced or contrived. The magic is in the simplicity of two people who are able to set themselves free by learning to love another.

I did feel at times that the dialogue between the characters was a little stilted, but it also seemed quite accurate for the time period, and thus wasn't as distracting as it might have been. In fact, coming from someone who greatly values historic accuracy in my books, I really enjoyed the details in the story that made the world of seventeenth-century England come to life. The plot whisked along, and I was quite happy to be carried away for the adventure. I really enjoyed this book and will eagerly await more from Gina Black in the future!
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