Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Brava (November 1, 2007)
Publisher: Brava (November 1, 2007)
Miss Amelia Benbridge is ready to leave behind a past filled with heartbreak for a sensible marriage. Until temptation itself comes calling, with an invitation to seduction…
SHE LOVED AND LOST HIM ONCE…
Amelia Benbridge and the Earl of Ware are the most anticipated match of the Season. Lord Ware is handsome, wealthy, and kind, and he understands that her love will always belong to her childhood sweetheart, Colin. When Colin died, Amelia believed she would never feel such passion again. But her primal reaction to the brooding stranger who approaches her at a masquerade, coaxing her into a moonlit minuet and a single, sensual kiss, proves otherwise…
Colin Mitchell knew a pairing between a peer’s daughter and a gypsy stable boy was impossible. Amelia’s mistaken belief in his demise afforded him the opportunity to return to her as a man of means. But time has slipped through his fingers. She is preparing to wed another and danger prevents him from revealing the truth. Colin can only bid her a secret farewell, but he underestimates her determination to unmask her phantom admirer. A forbidden kiss leads to her ardent pursuit and a soul-scorching affair. Amelia is perfectly attuned to his every desire, every thought–and hungry for stability he can’t offer her. For deception lies at the heart of their love, waiting to drive them apart once again…
This is book 3 in Sylvia Day's Georgian historial series ("Ask For It" and "Passion For The Game" are the previous stories), and it is probably my favorite book by Sylvia Day so far. Her writing continues to get better, more emotional, tighter, and it pays off big-time in this 3rd installment. Warning: spoilers ahead if you have not read "Passion For The Game".
We first met Amelia, then 16, and Colin, 19, in "Passion For The Game". Amelia is Maria, Lady Winter's younger sister, and she is being held captive by her cold, vindictive father as a source of blackmail against Maria. Amelia and Colin first meet when she is 7, and they become instant friends, despite the fact she is a peer and he is naught but a gypsy stableboy. Their feelings of friendship gradually turn romantic as the two get older, but while Colin is harshly aware of their social differences and the difficulties that go along with it, Amelia is caught up in the intense love she feels for Colin, and is horribly hurt when he pushes her away. When a plot to kidnap Amelia is discovered, Colin tries to rescue Amelia and is shot in the process, and Amelia believes her beloved died saving her. She is devastated...
Six years later, and Amelia Benbridge is now on the verge of becoming engaged to her dear friend, Lord Ware. While he doesn't make her feel the incredible passion that Colin did, she loves him dearly and feels he will ground her, keep her from that wild part of herself. Besides everyone expects it. It is up to her to take that final step and accept his hand. Yet something is holding her back.
Colin Mitchell has loved Amelia as a woman since he was 18 years old. When he is shot trying to save her, an opportunity falls into his lap to make a better life for himself, one where he came come to Amelia and be worthy of her, and give her the life he feels she deserves. With the help of a dear friend of Maria's, Simon Quinn, Colin gives up his old life, letting everyone believe he is dead, and embarks on a new one in France. During this time, he emasses a fortune, properties, wealth to lavish on Amelia when they are finally together. On his last evening in France however, his plans hit a snag, and now he has a price over his head.
A month later, he is finally in England, and while it is dangerous for him to be seen, he cannot keep away from the woman who has kept him going, who has given him reason all these years. Disguised in a white mask, Colin attends a masquerade and cannot keep his eyes off of Amelia. She is even more beautiful, more sensual than he remembers, and it is all he can to do keep from dragging her away and ravishing her in a most wicked fashion. Unable to recognize him with the mask, and his accent, Amelia is nevertheless drawn to the mysterious man who seems to be following her every move. She has not felt anything this strongly for another man since her beloved Colin, and he is gone forever. Before she can commit herself to a passionless marriage, Amelia feels compelled to seek out this man who invades her dreams and stirs her senses.
They share an intense kiss, and Colin's heart cries out with joy to have her in his arms again, while it pains him to keep his identity a secret in order to keep her safe. Angry with himself for being so weak and careless, he decides the safest thing to do is leave town until his troubles are resolved and he can be with Amelia as a free man. But Amelia is a stubborn woman, and when she sees him trying to leave, she follows him. Still unaware of who he really is, she only knows she must follow this compulsive need to be with him. Throwing caution,and her reputation, to the winds, she arrives at his room, lured by the yearning she has sensed in him, one that lives inside her as well. Tempted beyond endurance and faced with the strong will of the woman he loves, Colin cannot turn her away, even if it means she will end up hating him. Together, they will have this one night, his identity still a mystery to her, their passion unable to be denied.
Colin knows he doesn't have much time, that Amelia's family, and future finance', will be making an appearance, not to mention his enemies who are so close on his trail. Savoring these precious moments, he makes love to her, cherishes her and drowns in the intense passion only she can evoke. When morning comes he knows he must face her as the man he really is, and try to claim the life he's fought so dearly to create for her. Will she be able to forgive him for leaving her, letting her think he is dead, or deny their future together and marry a man suited to get her a better life than he ever could?
I loved this book. Absolutely loved it. I have wanted to read this story since "Passion For The Game", when we first meet Amelia and Colin. I was heartbroken at the end, thinking he may have died, and so happy when it turns out he lived. Both Amelia and Colin went on with their lives out of necessity, and while Amelia believed Colin had died protecting her, she nevertheless tried to go on living, and even came close to marriage to a man who knew he would never have her heart, but would always have her friendship. Lord Ware was a dear friend to her, but an honest one, not an insipid, weak male willing to let her walk all over him. He gave her time, but believed he could make her happy. Maybe if Colin truly had died, he would have been able to do just that.
It's possible a part of her didn't believe that Colin really was dead, and that was why she couldn't take that step to marry Lord Ware. Whatever the reason, she wasn't ready to commit to another person just yet. Meanwhile, Colin did what he could to become a man not only worthy of Amelia, but also one approved of by her family and society. As much as Amelia may have believed they could have been together no matter what, Colin was wiser, and knew he could never subject her to that kind of life, no matter how much she loved him.
Despite the lie, this glaring sin of omission, I found this story to be wonderfully and wildly romantic, moreso than any I've read in a long time. Colin and Amelia belonged together, and though it was a scary proposition for both of them, it was also something that would make them both happier than they've ever been. It's hard to not roll your eyes at the idea of soulmates, and love that is meant to be, but that's exactly what this love story was, and I adored it completely. So while I have read a few really good books lately, none have made me sigh with happiness quite as much as his one. This is what I have been reminiscing about....
Rating: ***** out of *****