Far from England, alone for too long, Captain Jonathon Barry Is captivated the instant he saw Jaline--she is too magnificent not to notice. There is a grace to her movements, an elegance to her bearing, that sets her apart even before she lifts her exotic black eyes or speaks. Her voice is intoxicating, soft as velvet with a sweet, lilting quality, as she recounts an evil bargain made against her will. She is to be his mistress, and he may do with her as he pleases …
I read an amazing review by Katiebabs for this book, and knew I just had to read it. So when I met Sarah Parr in June at the Lori Foster/Dianne Castell gathering, I was disappointed to discover that her book had been sold out before I even had a chance to see the cover. But Sarah was very sweet and gracious, and later, she even did an interview with me (which will be posted later this week).
I decided to do this as a mini-review because it's very difficult for me to find the words to really describe this book. Sometimes a story sneaks up on you, has a way of seeping into you and you're not sure why or how it happened, just that it does. This is one of those books. I enjoyed it very much, but it's one of those times where it's hard to put into words how it make me feel. I don't look at that in a bad way, though it does make it a tad bit difficult to write a review. I guess you just have to read it to understand.
When we first meet Jonathan and Jaline, he has already won her in a gambling den, and he realizes that she's a bit scared of him. Jaline feels very much in Jonathan's debt, and is accepting in her fate as his mistress, though to him, it appears more like she's walking to the gallows. But he desires her greatly, and is not willing to let her go, especially when it is evident she is still in some kind of danger.
Since her parents died, Jaline has known what it's like to be a burden. She knows that Jonathan now owns her, and in fact can do whatever he wants to her, and she refuses to renege on the terms of their agreement. Yet despite her resignation, she's also strongly drawn to Jonathan, and finds his kindness and patience rather confusing. She also wonders why he hesitates to make her his mistress in truth, preferring to wait until a more comfortable situation for them both. Jaline is not used to men like Jonathan. He might just be the one to slip past her defenses, no matter how much she doesn't want to care...
Jaline is part shy mouse, part clever and fearless tiger. Jonathan is captivated with her right from the start, even begins to fall in love with her, though while he doesn't think of her as a slave, he does consider her "his". He's charmed by this hauntingly sad and beautiful woman who has managed to survive by her wits and strength alone. I loved Jonathan's patience with Jaline, even though she has willingly agreed to share his bed, he doesn't want to just use her like she expects him to. She's heartbreakingly lovely and resilient, but he senses her vulnerability, understands that she expects him to turn on her like everyone else has. But to him she is so much more than a woman to warm his bed. He values her instincts, trusts her judgment implicitly. I really liked how Jonathan will defer to Jaline from time to time, not caring that she is a woman. He just knows that she's had experiences that shape her way of thinking, and that she's pretty spot on with her assessments. You gotta love a hero who respects the opinions of a woman, even if no one else does.
Jaline doesn't want to love Jonathan, but she cannot help herself. He's the first person to truly listen to her, to care for her for more than just a means to an end. But Jonathan is on his way to becoming a duke, and there is no way she will let her position as his mistress become more, ruining his chances to reclaim his family's title. Above all else, Jaline is a practical woman, and understands how these things work. I found her actions to be in line with the type of person she was, even if falling in love with Jonathan wasn't part of her plan. Jaline was a bit hard to get to know, but she manages to sneak up on you and make you care. She looks upon her beauty as more of a curse than anything else, and it isn't until she meets Jonathan that she discovers that not all men are ruled by their passions. While once she may have looked at being a mistress as an obligation, with Jonathan it is about giving, about pleasure and feelings.
"Renegade" is a lovely story, moving, filled with intrigue, action, betrayal, and most importantly, a wonderful love story. It's hard to explain, but suffice it to say that by the time I closed the book, I was assailed by that feeling of sadness I get whenever I don't want a book to end. The characters made me fall in love with them and I wasn't quite ready to leave their world. I definitely will be reading more of Sarah's work.
Please stay tuned later in the week where I'll be posting a wonderful interview with Sarah, and intend to give a copy of "Renegade" away to one lucky winner :)
Rating: **** out of *****