- Grand Central Publishing
- Release Date
- May 2008
- Book 1 of The Legend of the Four Soldiers
EVEN THE MOST REFINED LADY
Lady Emeline Gordon is the model of sophistication in London's elite social circles, always fashionable and flawlessly appropriate. As such, she is the perfect chaperone for Rebecca, the young sister of a successful Boston businessman and former Colonial soldier.
CRAVES AN UNTAMED MAN
Samuel Hartley may be wealthy, but his manners are as uncivilized as the American wilderness he was raised in. Who wears moccasins to a grand ball? His arrogant disregard for propriety infuriates Emeline, even as his boldness excites her.
TO RELEASE HER PASSION…
But beneath Samuel's rakish manner, he is haunted by tragedy. He has come to London to settle a score, not to fall in love. And as desperately as Emeline longs to feel this shameless man's hands upon her, to taste those same lips he uses to tease her, she must restrain herself. She is not free. But some things are beyond a lady's control…
Apr 24, 2011 [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
164 people found the following review helpful
There is no better way to launch a series than with a firecracker of a book like this one. Intensely passionate and deceptively complicated characters, humor and wit, and a mystery that promises to make for a very interesting arc all contribute to make for an absorbing read and sets the bar for the Four Soldiers series quite high indeed.
Samuel Hartley, a ‘colonial savage' from Boston, is not cut out for London society. Not only does he insist on wearing moccasins to social events, but he seems to have nothing but disdain for rank, titles or the demure etiquette required among the higher classes. He is in England for one thing, and one thing only: to secure his revenge against the man who betrayed his regiment during the Seven Years (French and Indian) War, leading to a massacre that still haunts his memories and has soured his taste for civilized society. However, he knows his younger sister Rebecca will need some tutelage in order to acclimate to British culture, so he enlists the help of a young widow, Lady Emeline Gordon, to chaperone Rebecca into society. Samuel knows of Emeline only through her connections—her brother was murdered at the massacre that Samuel hopes to avenge, and she is engaged to Lord Jasper Vale, another member of Samuel's old regiment, and also one of his closest friends.
Lady Emeline herself is the model of decorum and propriety, as emotionally reserved as Samuel is hot blooded. But as the two come to know each other, Samuel sees through her icy formality to the passionately fiery spirit that lies beneath and determines to set Emeline free of her own inhibitions. But Sam is a soldier, and his sense of duty remains paramount—even if that means losing Emeline. For try as he might to change her mind, she is still engaged to Sam's best friend, and winning her might mean taking the one thing left that Jasper has to live for. And when the chance to capture the traitor comes, even the strongest love might not be enough to save Sam and Emeline from disaster.
As with all of Elizabeth Hoyt's books, the characters are what make the story so engrossing. I've heard a lot of criticism from other readers about Emeline, but I personally found her to be quite interesting. Having suffered so much loss at such a young age, it's understandable that she would become aloof in order to protect herself. She also refuses to let anyone have control over her life or that of her young son. She is with Jasper because he can provide her stability and companionship, without the danger of heartbreak. Her reaction to Sam's rather aggressive form of seduction makes sense in this context; though she isn't very nice to him, it has to be said that he isn't always very nice to her. But their characters, at heart, are very well-suited to each other, and, even though Emeline is not the most sympathetic of characters, I was rooting for her to get her happy ending quite early in the story.
Sam is quite the force of nature. He lands in the middle of a country house party like a hurricane and doesn't let up for a moment. I can't help falling for a fellow Bostonian, whatever the time period, but Sam, for all his alpha-male seduction tactics, is really quite loveable when all is said and done. His loyalty to his regiment, most especially to Jasper, is remarkable, especially considering the fact that Jasper is the primary barrier to his future with Emeline. The scene between the two men after the betrothal had been announced was a painfully raw but exceptional piece of writing.
The secondary characters in this story are equally as fascinating as the hero and heroine. Emeline's best friend Melisande will come into her own in the next book, but already it is clear that there is far more to her than meets the eye. Jasper is one of my favorite characters to come around in a very long time, and even in a supporting role, there is the sense that Jasper is working very hard to hide from himself and his memories. The obvious disconnect between the Jasper that Sam knew and the Jasper as he appears in this book is a little bit of foreshadowing of things to come…
I enjoyed the intensity of Sam and Emeline's relationship, but it did get a little wearing at times. I think if there had been a greater range of emotions between them, a few quiet moments in the storm, the climax would have carried a little more punch. It's not easy to sustain that level of emotion for an entire novel, and while I think it was very well done, I also don't think it was entirely necessary to sustain the emotional pitch of the story at such a high level.
As a note, I read this book after reading the second in the series, and while this one was excellent, the series gets better from here. While this is certainly a more traditional romance than Elizabeth Hoyt's earlier works, it is still full of her characteristically strong and complex characters, well-structured plots and touching love stories. The mystery of the betrayal at Spinner's Falls is full of suspense and is full of potential drama over the course of the series, and the scars it left on the men are pivotal to their development in the course of each book.
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