A cruel twist of fate changed Simon Blackwell's life irreparably. A man of intense passions, he resolved to deny his emotions and desires forever, taking refuge in the wilds of the moorlands and shutting himself off from the world. But on one extraordinary night, on a rare trip to London, the unthinkable occurs. An intoxicatingly beautiful stranger stirs the sensuous hunger he has sworn to resist. Simon Blackwell believed that no woman could tempt him.
No woman . . . save Annabel McBride.
Annabel knows nothing of Simon's secret pain. But one irresistible kiss plunges her into marriage with a man she scarcely knows, a man who hides a shattered past. She can feel the blistering heat of the fire that smolders within this exquisitely handsome man, making her yearn for much more than the union in name only he has promised her.
But Simon dares not love again—for fragile love can be lost in an instant. And now Annabel must find a way to open his heart to the most glorious risk of all . . .
Other than a secret that takes too long to reveal, this Victorian romance from James (A Perfect Hero) concerning the troubled union of fiery Annabel McBride and tormented Simon Blackwell is just about perfect: rich, meaty, sexy and honest. Upon meeting, the two immediately set to butting heads, but it isn't long before an instant of weakness finds them in a passionate lip lock. Just like that, their fate is sealed: Anne's reputation is compromised and the two are married. Simon, haunted by unmentionable heartbreak, refuses to consummate the marriage, planning to divorce her after a year or so; Anne is horrified at the prospect and determined to make a genuine husband out of him. Simon thwarts her every attempt until his past catches up with him, and she finds the way to bring him back from self-imposed emotional exile. Simon's dark secret, hinted at throughout, may frustrate readers, but it also lends the book an enticing gothic edge. James's writing is assured, her story moves well, and she has a fine pair of leads in Anne and Simon; their hard-won happily ever after will satisfy any historical romance fan.