Caroline Huntington, the niece of the Earl of Twickenham, has accompanied Maggie Farnsworth to the Mediterranean to help with Maggie's orphanage project. They have come to the island of Crete for a week long holiday where they will enjoy the sun and local sites. Caroline is horseback riding and has an accident where she falls and dislocates her elbow and ends up with a concussion. Caroline is found by Maggie and Monsieur Legault, a Frenchman, who is involved with an archeological dig on the island. The closest town where Caroline can receive medical care is too far away. They take her to Mr. Trentham, a physician, who doesn't practice any longer but is the best shot they have. Alex Trentham is annoyed and very rude because he longs for his solitude. He doesn't want Caroline or anyone else in his home. But after appealing to his better natures, he relents and allows Caroline to recover in one of his spare bedrooms until she is well enough to be moved.
Alex is still wracked with guilt over something he did while he practiced medicine when resided in England. All he longs for is peace, but with an English miss like Caroline running all over the island and getting into trouble, he has no choice but to keep an eye on her. As Caroline recovers, she finds Alex to be a very confusing and harsh speaking man. She doesn't want to spend any more time in his company and can't wait to leave so she and Maggie can continue on to Malta. But, Caroline is still not fit for travel. Alex won't allow her to go and after he finds her another companion, a Miss Pen Briggs, to stay with her while Maggie ventures off the island, Caroline relents. Alex is very masterful in getting what he wants and when it comes to Caroline's health, only he seems to know what's in her best interests.
Alex decides to be Caroline's guide; he'll show her the sites and wonders of Crete. He takes Caroline swimming in the ocean, picnics at the seashore and to some ruins where they view some shocking frescoes that lead to an amazing kiss between Caroline and Alex. Caroline is falling for this mysterious Mr. Trentham even though he tells her they can't have more than a few kisses with one another. Suddenly everything changes when there's a cave in and he and Caroline are buried inside. Then Alex finds himself "buried" inside of Caroline. Looks like a cave in is the next best thing when deflowering a historical romance virgin like Caroline.
Alex and Caroline are rescued but with the way things are, Caroline returns back to England where her Uncle Denby wants to adopt her. That means she will have access to part of his fortune, and his son Reginald is enraged. No orphan cousin of his will take what is rightly his and because of his selfishness he places Caroline in danger. Caroline doesn't really care about becoming an heiress because she is trying to heal her broken heart where she still longs for those days and nights on Crete with Alex, the only man she has ever loved and who made her a woman in every way.
Anthea Lawson's All He Desires is a luscious and exotic historical romance with a very different and welcomed setting. Caroline Huntington, the heroine of fresco viewing and cave in deflowerment is the sister of James, the hero in Anthea's debut release Passionate that came out last year. She's a very passionate but level headed young woman who longs for the love of a good man. She feels that Alex Trentham may just be that man, but because he can't let go of the past, everything they have together is destroyed. Alex is the reason Caroline is so confused about her feelings and what she longs for in life. And even though Alex is one of those brooding, tortured heroes who finds happiness in a woman's arms, I wanted to shake him because he is so gloomy and laments about the past. Because of this constant internal punishment, he ruins everything.
What I really enjoyed was that Alex and Caroline don't fall into each other's arms right away. They communicate and from that build a warm relationship with one another. Some of the situations they find themselves in are a bit too unrealistic for the time period, such as a single man and single virginal woman bathing together in the ocean, as well as being stuck in a cave where Caroline enjoys her first taste of sex. But, this is fiction and these scenes are needed because they cement the growing feelings Alex and Caroline have for one another.
I was very happy to see Reggie, the devious cousin, who was first introduced in Passionate back in All He Desires. He's so selfish, amoral and spoiled but again there is something about him where he could be redeemed and if Anthea feels like it, Reggie could be an incredible hero in his own story.
All He Desires has a great romantic adventure feel to it with nicely written love scenes between Caroline and Alex. The subplot where Caroline is placed in danger seems bit too much, but I give credit to Anthea for pulling things together in such a way where you really enjoy Alex and Caroline's happily ever after. Alex annoyed me at certain parts because of this all consuming guilt he feels as and something he does later in the book that made me want to shake him yet again.
Anthea Lawson does have a great historical romance voice and along with her exotic settings. All He Desire was a solid read that had me yearning for the island of Crete where I could view some naughty frescoes.
Passionate (Zebra Debut)