Well, I knew this would be an emotional tear jerker before I'd even turned the first page. What is it about characters and stories that go so horribly wrong at some point, and you just know you're in for a rocky, emotional read, but you go ahead and punish yourself anyway? Because, for me at least, it is so worth it when the characters reach a beautiful reconciliation. So, yeah, I'm willing to shed a few tears and mope for the hero and heroine, cry, laugh and cheer them on because that sort of reaction is what makes a book worthy in my opinion. When you feel strongly for the characters, you know you've found a winner.
John Hammond knew he'd be inheriting a viscountcy one day, but the yoke of responsibility was never one he worried about. Why worry when he has a relative to rely on for such boring things as an heir? When the unthinkable happens to his beloved relative, John is again faced with the fact that he must have an heir. Thankfully, he already has a wife...now he just has to convince her to let him back in her good graces after almost nine years of being out of them. Lady Viola has gotten on with her life after her husband trounced her heart in a most unforgivable manner. She no longer needs the unscrupulous man, but when John enters her life once more, demanding she do her wifely duty, her carefully constructed world comes crumbling down around her. What is she to do in the face of the one person whom she thought she could trust with her happiness? John is determined to claim his wife again, but the real question is has he learned anything from his past mistakes?
As wretched as I felt for both the hero and heroine, I just could not stop till I had completely finished their tale. John and Viola are the type of historical romance couple readers will either love or hate. Both have been wounded by the other and simply cannot come to terms with their differences and so they trade hurtful barbs and cutting remarks for years. The reason they worked for me, I confess with no small amount of glee, is that John does have a remarkable revelation about his character, his utter disregard for the feelings of the women in his life. He was a lier, he was a cheater and he broke hearts. In a way, this historical is unique because it tells of the awakening of a typical "rogue" and how he comes to realize how his actions have hurt others, especially his estranged wife. I just love it when a character like his gets what's coming to him. In this case he got an in-the-face dousing of pure and simple reality. It just took the love of an exceptional woman like Viola to help him accomplish it. Did he deserve her? No, not really. But did they deserve a chance at happiness? Absolutely, and that is what this book is all about. I just love it too when I find a new author to read and I am planning to backtrack to her previous titles before this one. Many interesting secondary characters - i.e. Viola's brother Anthony and his wife Daphne, their mutual friend Dylan - all have their own stories prior to this one. (See "His Every Kiss" and "Guilty Pleasures") Despite the heartache this one evoked I give it five stars for being an absolute pleasure to read.
Official Reviewer for The Mystic Castle