By Love Undone

Suzanne Enoch
By Love Undone
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Release Date
September 2008
Historical Romance

Scandal's daughter . . .

Madeleine Willits was shunned by London society for a scandal that was no fault of hers, and forced to seek a paid position in the country. So when Quinlan Bancroft, Marquis of Warefield, comes to direct the household during his uncle's illness, Maddie is determined to detest the nobleman on sight. But though the marquis is easy to dislike, the man himself is a different matter. Small wonder, then, that Maddie quite forgets herself when he enfolds her in a sweet embrace . . .

Meets the noble lord . . .

Caught kissing his uncle's lovely young companion, Quinlan feels he should make amends, and uses his rank to re-establish Miss Willits in society. Unfortunately, it is soon apparent that Maddie has no idea how to resist importunate young rakes who deem her ripe for the plucking. But Maddie knows there is only one rake whose attentions she truly needs to fear—because only Quinlan Bancroft possesses the power to break her heart.

Book Review by Silver (reviewer)
Oct 11, 2011   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
207 people found the following review helpful
Suzanne Enoch excels at characterization in this book, especially in her fun, unforgettable heroine Madeleine Willits.

Maddie served as a companion to Mr. Malcolm Bancroft. There was some mystery to her background, which would also lead one to think why a beautiful, young woman would prefer to hide in the country, caring for an old man. However, when Mr. Bancroft fell ill, they had to write to the Duke of Highbarrow, who was his brother. The duke, fearing that no one would tend to the crops, sent his son Quinlan Bancroft, Marquis of Warefield, to oversee the planting in his uncle's stead.

Because Maddie had dreadful experience with the ton five years ago, she was prejudiced toward Quinlan, and through schemes, strategies and sarcasm, she sought to drive him away. What ensue was a fun and quirky banter between the two, a kind of flirting disguised as fighting. However, and probably, they fooled no one but themselves as to the nature of their argument. Each couldn't deny the attraction toward the other, though Maddie fought against it, driven especially by her negative experiences of the nobility.

Their feelings overcame them at one point, and they kissed, at which Quinlan was made to realize the error of his ways (that Maddie wasn't a lightskirt). To rectify his wrong and uphold his honor (and perhaps because he didn't want to be parted yet from Maddie), he agreed with his uncle's plans to use his rank and his family's considerable power to reinstate Maddie back into society and somehow right the wrong that was done her five years ago. To this, he recruited the help of his almost-betrothed, Eloise Stokesley, thus coiling them further into a complicated tangle of deceit and betrayal.

Maddie is a delightful heroine, one that shines out from the others in the genre. I like her witty repartee, especially her banter and "fights" with Quin. She's very frank and she never lets her thoughts pass through her brain first, which leads her into trouble, more often than not. She also doesn't back down from her fight and doesn't allow anyone to insult her, and she didn't care that the other party might be a duke or a marquis, who is her social superior. For all that, her previous experience scars her deeply, and her vulnerabilities at re-entering Society would make you sympathize with her. She's also very kind and has a real concern and genuine affection for Malcolm.

Quinlan, for all that he's very wealthy, isn't like most of the heroes in the genre either. (Probably because the original publication of the book was in 1998. Love scenes in books have evolved a lot through the years.) Though he has mistresses in the past, one gets the feeling that he's not a dissolute rake, but instead, he does manage his own estate and when he was at his uncle's, he helps in the planning of the planting, and in considering improvements to the estate. He's a refreshing change, and I like that a lot. Who am I kidding? I adore Quin! He projects the very image of propriety, which he seems to break whenever he's with Maddie. Don't you just love that in a man? Of Maddie, he's very protective and solicitous, and he even gets jealous when she seems to get along better with his brother Rafe.

I have such fun reading this book, and I couldn't flip the pages fast enough. Ms Enoch sure knows how to ramp up the tension with each "fight", each encounter, such that I can't wait to read their first kiss, their first intimacy. Because Quin is almost betrothed (arranged marriage) and we know how the nobility in those times are protective of their name and reputation, the angst surrounding Maddie and Quin's relationship make for such bittersweet reading (read: this is good). Ms Enoch was able to engage all my emotions such that I was rooting for them all the way.

Secondary characters like Malcolm Bancroft, Rafe (Quin's brother), the duke and the duchess, Eloise Stokesley and Charles Dunfrey (Maddie's former betrothed), as well as Maddie's parents, rounded up the tale, and makes one realize that the truth is not always what it seems. One of Rafe's particular past actions seemed reprehensible, but I do believe he has since regretted it and did all he can to make amends. Still, he should've worked up the courage to confess.

Nevertheless, Ms. Enoch's superb writing, outstanding characters, clever dialogue and enjoyable story has captivated me, leaving me wishing that there could be an epilogue, set several years down the road. I just really didn't want it to end!
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