If he wins this hand...
Shunning the glittering elite of high society Kieran, Baron Rothewell, prefers the dangerous pursuits of London's demimonde. Hardened by a tormented past, he cares little for anyone or anything. So how can he resist the wager proposed by the dissolute Comte de Valigny? A hand of cards for the possession of the comte's exquisite daughter.
Will he win her heart?
Abandoned by her highborn father -- until he decides to use her -- Mademoiselle Camille Marchand puts no trust in an aristocrat's honor, especially that of the notorious baron. She too is gambling -- for her life -- and Rothwell is just one more card to be used. But whatever dark desires run through his veins call to her own, and the heart plays its own game -- winner take all!
I was a bit worried when I started this Never Romance a Rake because after reading the blurb about a woman lost at cards it seemed it might be full of clichés. I’m very happy to report now that I finished that Carlyle does manage to write a believable story with very angsty characters and that not only I enjoyed it very much but I also think it’s the best story I read in this series so far.
Kieran, Lord Rothewell, has been a secondary character in the previous stories. He usually appears in a dark mood and not seldom under the influence of alcohol.
When the story starts he is enjoying a game of cards with some very shady characters. One of which decides to gamble the right to marry his daughter and receive her dowry. While not one to be bothered but a bit of debauchery Kieran doesn’t feel right accepting the situation, especially as he finds the young woman beautiful and strangely not fighting the situation she is in. He manages to win but when he wants to release her he finds out that she does want to marry at all costs. Unable to leaver to the lechers who have played he takes her home to her aunt.
Camille is a tortured young woman, having grown up in France the bastard daughter of an English noblewoman whose husband divorced her, and the man who has just gambled her away she is desperate to wed so she can receive the inheritance her grandfather left her. Her father is a sort of black sheep in society and being her a bastard there is some problems with her readily acceptance as Kieran’s bride, not to mention the problems with his former mistress.
Camille is determined to have her heart involved in her marriage. She knows man and how they work so this will be a marriage of convenience only. Kieran believes he is dying; he has been having health problems for a while, and decides to help her because under all his bad behavior he has a good heart.
The good thing about this book is exactly the way Carlyle develops the relationship between them. How they slowly get to know each other better and start caring about one another.
There are issues in both their pasts that have to be addressed and that explain both Kieran’s behavior and Camille’s situation. I really enjoyed learning more about them and follow them from barely acquainted to respect and love. A very satisfying read!