The Brethren Guardians are men descended from the Knights Templar, a group who have a quest to protect ancient relics that hold untold power. They have been fighting (in the last two books) to keep these relics safe from the mysterious Orpheus, a bad man who seems to have insider information and be only intent on causing evil. Iain Sinclair (also known as the Marques of Alynwick) is the whorish one of the Brethren Guardians. Iain’s way of contributing to the cause is to sleep with a woman he hates to try to get information during pillow talk. He doesn’t particularly enjoy his task, but is willing to do whatever it takes to stop the relics being taken.
Not only is Iain a big whore, he is also in love with the lovely Elizabeth York. Elizabeth is the blind sister of one of his fellow Brethren and has already lost her virginity to the man-whore years previously to this story. Now they coexist in a state of false hostility, each of them hiding true emotion behind apathy and animosity. Too much time has passed for explanations and excuses to be readily accepted, but one thing clear is that neither is unaffected. Iain is not discrete about his conquests, each notch on his bedpost common knowledge; Elizabeth cannot bring herself to acknowledge her love for a man who treats women as disposable.
When a new man starts sniffing around the lovely Elizabeth at a time when things are hotting up for the Brethren, Iain cannot help but smell a rat. This hunch, along with a massive case of jealousy, spurs him to try to reignite a relationship long since dead. Elizabeth has been burned once; she won’t make it easy for him to get close to her again, no matter how much her body craves him. Iain has to use every dirty trick in his arsenal to help him get through her walls, but will it be enough? Moreover, will the impending deadly showdown with Orpheus render all his efforts useless anyway?
Confession number one; I haven’t read the books one and two in this series. Confession number two; historical fiction is not my genre of choice, but I really wanted to read a Charlotte Featherstone novel. Considering both of these confessions, I really enjoyed this book! I will recommend that you read the other tales simply to understand the background to the story Arc. The writing is so fluid that I will DEFINITELY be reading another book by this author. I loved the world that she created; the mixture of historical fact and fiction was compelling! I wanted to read more, even if my gaps in knowledge of the back-story were quite confusing, and I finished this book in a few hours.
Elizabeth was the best character in this twisted love story. I enjoyed her strength of character and convictions. Yes, she was blind, but she didn’t wallow in misery. She accepted her limitations and worked towards her strengths; she really was a worthy heroine. I loved that the author really thought about how the disability would affect more than her day-to-day life; there is a scene between her and Iain where he doesn’t tell her explicitly how he feels so she fills in the blanks with her previous knowledge. Of course she gets it completely wrong, thinks the worst and chucks him out…I never realised little things like not seeing facial expressions could cause so much drama.
Iain was a difficult hero to love. He used sex as a tool and this made him unworthy for a heroine such as Elizabeth. At one point in the tale, he goes from the woman he is sleeping with for information to trying to seduce Elizabeth…as worthy as his cause is, his methods left a lot to be desired. He did try to become a better man, tried to become worthy, but I’m not sure it wasn’t too late. I loved the way he seduced her, using his knowledge of her and his natural charm to seduce every aspect of her. In this way, he was perfect, but then again maybe that is a comment on his practice in this area. No matter how many nice things he did, there were always slimy undertones. The only time I truly saw a glimmer of the man he could be was when he reacts to the scene where Elizabeth chucks him out and changes, making sure he is clear in his words and gestures. I am all for second chances, but I didn’t get the impression that Iain wouldn’t easily slip back into old habits if it suited his purpose.
The side story was fabulous and completely compelling. The outcome of the whole “who is Orpheus?” mystery probably didn’t mean as much as it would be to series readers, but I enjoyed the mystery all the same.
All in all this was a fabulous book by an author I will read more from. With a fabulous heroine and a heartbreaking love story, I think this series has something for everyone.