A childhood trauma has left Lady Blanche Harrington incapable of all emotion, least of all love. Now circumstance demands she marry, and Blanche dreads choosing from her horde of fawning suitors. For one very eligible gentleman has not stepped forward . . .
A war hero and a recluse, Rex de Warenne has long admired Lady Blanche. Though fate and his own dark nature have robbed him of any hope for the kind of future such a lady deserves, Rex is determined to aid her -- and keep his feelings to himself. But when their growing friendship leads to a night of shocking passion, Blanche's newfound memories threaten their fragile love . . . and Blanche's very life.
It's been a while since I had picked up one of Brenda Joyce's titles, her heroes were turning too alpha and I found that my tastes had definitely changed. However I looked at this one the other day and the review seemed interesting so I picked it up. I haven't regretted it. It was an interesting read with a heroine suffering post traumatic stress disorder and a hero who seemed less alpha than her usual type.
The hero and heroine already know each other when the story starts as Blanche was once the bride of one of Rex's brothers. In a way this can also be considered a friends to lovers story as they do develop a friendship before going any further. In that sense I felt the first scene where Blanche catches Rex with another woman was quite unnecessary and they could be brought together in some other way but I guess sex sells so there has be a certain amount of scenes.
After a first awkward moment Rex and Blanche find that they do like to spend time together. They both have difficult pasts, he was crippled in the war against Napoleon and saw the woman he loves marry someone else and she saw her mother being murdered when she was a child although she has repressed the memory.
Their friendship eventually develops into an attraction and they eventually give in to their passion. However Blanche starts to remember what really happened with her mother and the new emotions are overwhelming making her believe she is mad. To spare Rex from seeing her go mad Blanche runs away to London where she keeps getting worse.
I thought interesting that Joyce could create such a tortured heroine. By doing so she also deals with the problem of married women whose riches would then be the husband's property while they could be conveniently disposed of in a hospice and similar.
Rex eventually finds out that Blanche is not mad and that she is hiding from him, not because she doesn't love him but because she wants to protect him. Seeing some similarities between what is happening to her and what happened to some of the soldiers in the war he decides to help her. I thought all this was much better, and much more interesting, than your usual romance novel and was quite happy to have picked it up.