Setting - Algiers and Regency England ---- In this second book of Heather Cullman's trilogy (definitely can stand alone), you are reintroduced to Christian English, the extremely handsome man without a past who had been rescued by the former book's hero, Gideon Harwood. Right from the start the book grabs you with its graphic description of the Algerian slave market, the humiliation and the atrocities heaped upon those slaves considered to be prime for the more depraved buyers. After Christian was rescued by Gideon, they stayed on the continent long enough to amass a fortune and return to England as very wealthy men. With no memories of who he was, Christian was welcomed into Gideons home, and falls in loves with Gideon's beautiful sister Bethany, but is frustrated in his inability to declare himself with no memory and the possibility that he might already be wed. At Gideon's Christmas celebration, invited members from the ton recognize Christian as being the eldest son and heir to the Duke of Amberley. As thrilled as Bethany is for Christian's good fortune, and loving him as much as she did, she was more than aware that, with this disclosure, her status was far below what would be acceptable as the proper wife to the heir of a dukedom!
Bethany, on the other hand, has her own secrets. Bethany had, before her brother returned home triumphant, in order to save her younger sister been compelled to become the mistress to a member of the ton. Becoming pregnant, she was abandoned and her child stillborn. In order to cover up the truth and provide a way for her to make a suitable marriage, her family had Bethany posing as the widow of wealthy sea captain. For Christian, the circumstances of Bethany's past did not make any difference to him as he was totally in love with her goodness, kindness and gentle ways and now the way was clear for him to declare himself properly. In the meantime, strange accidents began to occur to Christian as he was fast discovering that the person he had been in the past was not the person who had emerged after his experiences as a slave.
The plotline here was really quite good, and the character development of Christian and Bethany was extremely well done. I especially liked the way Christian came to realize that he was now a better person after having the life altering experiences as a slave rather than the privileged life as heir to a Duke. The secondary characters were warm and engaging, especially Christians brother and sisters. While I felt that the villain could have been developed more, it was easy to figure out who it was. The romance angle and the warm familial affection was very well done and certainly engages your emotions so that, as a whole, I feel confident in recommending this both as a very nice sequel or stand alone regency romance for lovers of the genre. *** Marilyn, Official Reviewer for www.historicalromancewriters.com