Series: The House of Rohan #4
Published by Mira Books on June 21, 2011
FINAL DECISION: I loved the romance between Benedick and Melisande which is more traditional than the other books in this series (Benedick is not as rakish or as close to irredeemable as the other heroes in the series). The two are so perfect for one another from the start but are determined to resist the possibility.
THE STORY: Viscount Benedick Rohan has been exceedingly unlucky with women. He’s buried two wives and had a fiancee commit suicide. He needs an heir and this time he intends to find a woman that he can marry and then ignore while he finds his pleasure elsewhere. His attempts to find that pleasure are interrupted by Lady Melisande Carstairs who is a social reformer who has taken on protecting prostitutes as her cause. She’s called “Charity Carstairs” and she and Benedick can’t do anything but fight and bicker, but when Melisande needs Benedick’s help in foiling the Heavenly Host, the two end up striking all kinds of sparks off of one another.
OPINION: The most traditional of the series, Benedick is a man who doesn’t want to be hurt again so he’s determined to keep away from the woman who threatens his peace. I found Benedick’s desire to protect himself the most poignant part of this book. He comes from a place of hurt and that makes him strike out to protect himself. He hurts Melisande, but hurts himself during the process. He’s not the nicest or kindest hero, but compared to his sister’s husband (Lucien from BREATHLESS) he’s pretty much a choirboy.
Melisande is a woman who is incredibly strong and determined. After a marriage to an old and ill man, she has tossed convention aside in her desire to help prostitutes. It has scandalized the aristocracy and left her reputation in tatters, but she does not allow the opinions of others to keep her from doing what she believes is right. Eschewing marriage and family, Melisande insists she is content with her life.
Both Benedick and Melisande, however, hide an inner desire for love and family. And they are immediately attracted to one another. They hide and protect themselves with arguments and anger towards one another.
I loved their romance and Benedick in particular because he so desperately wants to love Melisande and is so afraid of doing so.
I also really enjoyed getting to see Miranda and Lucien again. Although we get to see their happy ending in BREATHLESS, I liked seeing how their relationship has grown and changed after several years.
Benedick is not the typical Stuart anti-hero. He’s much more traditional even if he is a jerk to the heroine for a lot of the book.
WORTH MENTIONING: This book also begins the story of Brandon and Emma. It took 7 years but Stuart finally has written their story which was painfully incomplete in this book.
CONNECTED BOOKS: SHAMELESS is the fourth book in the House of Rohan series. There are overlapping characters in this series, but the romance here is self-contained and can be read as a standalone.
STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.