Lord Grayson Devlin, now Viscount Blackwood, became a member of the Flagstaff family when his parents and sister were killed in a carriage crash. Instead of thinking of him as one of her brothers, Lady Portia has been in love with Greyson since her coming out ball when she was sixteen years old. There was a moment when he seemed to return her feelings, but then war beckoned and off he went with her brother Robert and close pal Christian Trent, to fight the French. After the Battle of Waterloo, Greyson returned a different man. He had been unable to save Robert, his best friend, who was now dead or Christian who suffered scars from devastating burns. Full of self reproach, he vowed to never put his heart on the line again. It was just too painful to lose the ones he loved especially when it seemed that everyone he truly cared about died, leaving him behind to grieve.
The independent, unconventional Lady Portia vowed to marry no one but Greyson and only if he unconditionally returned her feelings. Yet, at the age of twenty four, she still longed to experience the passion she knew would ignite between them if only he would return her favors, so when she received a missive from Greyson to meet her at the scandalous Vauxville Gardens, she could not resist the chance of a romantic rendezvous. Unfortunately, it was not Greyson, but a kidnapper paid to bring her to a sultan’s harem in Egypt. Greyson, who had promised Robert to watch over his little sister, immediately set off to rescue Lady Portia before she came to harm. Despite attempts to dispel the rumor mill with tales of illness, the word was out that the Viscount was involved with her disappearance. In order to salvage both their reputations, a wedding was mandatory, but Portia refused to have any part of nuptials which didn’t include love and respect as a part of the marriage vows, preferring her current spinsterhood despite the impending scandal.
And thus the tug of war between the two love birds begins, with a push pull, yes no, do I don’t I, maybe yet, I want you but, sort of relationship. Of the first three books in the Disgraced Lord Series, A Touch of Passion is the most complete, even if it is a tad too long, dragging near the end. While Bronwen Evans has a tendency to repeat the details too many times, first with thoughts, then with explanations, then with further explanations, until the reader thinks “enough already”, at least this tale had quite a bit of action in the plot. This volume expounds upon the friendship between the Libertine Scholars and explores the loving relationships of the two already married couples and their families. Rounding out the story provides some humorous moments, especially when jealousy rears its ugly head. Headway is also made in discovering the identity of the mystery woman bent on destroying the reputations of the six comrades, threatening their lives as well as those close to them. The search for true love by the women and the avoidance of love by the men seems to be a theme which is interwoven in all the tales. Unfortunately, their ideals of love are simplistic and kind of sappy, despite the steamy sex scenes.
Some of the sexual situations, such as in the harem, are unusual, bordering on erotica. Grayson’s rescue of Portia from Alexandria defies logic, but sets an adventurous tone which reflects the heroine’s high spirited nature. Don’t look for accuracy in the Regency details, but instead focus on the overarching mystery as the glue which holds the series together. Three stars.
Thank you to Netgalley and Loveswept for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.