Arend Asbury, the Baron of Labourd, seems fearless, but that is only because he doesn’t really care whether he lives or dies. While he is totally devoted to his boyhood friends, the Libertine Scholars, he feels he is not worthy of their loyalty due to his despicable actions during the five years he was abroad in Paris. So while searching for the woman who is seeking revenge on his friends and their wives and children, he is more than ready to take chances which might get him killed for his efforts. After all, he, too, is a target of revenge in retaliation for the sins of their evil fathers. The main candidate is Lady Victoria, the woman the Libertine Scholars suspect of being the ruthless, vindictive killer out to avenge the gang raping incident which ruined her life when she was just a young girl.
Lady Isobel Thompson, Victoria’s step daughter, is a natural suspect, especially since Isobel always seems to be in the midst of the action when vengeful acts occur. Arend thinks she is either a spy, or worse, in cahoots with her stepmother. The Baron willingly puts himself in harm’s way by becoming her faux fiancé, as a means of keeping her under surveillance while the group tries to verify their suspicions. Isobel, who has her own agenda, is more than happy to assist Arend if he helps her prove Victoria is behind the death of her father.
Despite Arend’s good looks and impenetrable aura, his French origins and an unsavory reputation as a rake causes Isobel to have second thoughts. Although he is one of the richest men in England due to the diamond mines he discovered in Brazil (another secretive part of his past), once they go their separate ways she’ll be considered ruined. While her own generous inheritance will be more than enough to entice a proposal, Isobel wants a love match, not a marriage of convenience. Sensing Arend’s deep seated hurt, Isobel thinks she can heal him with her love, but only if he’s willing to trust her with his darkest secrets, actions which he feels are shamefully dishonorable, and will lead to rejection.
Even though they have a mutual distrust, there is an magnetic connection which draws them both together. Mentally they try to resist, but their sexual energy cannot be denied. Arend is torn, he wants to seduce the truth out of Isobel, while protecting her virtue in case she is innocent. It’s her innocence which attracts him, yet there is a sense of doubt, especially since his experiences with beautiful women always seem to end in life altering betrayal.
A Night of Forever by Bronwen Evans is the sixth book in The Disgraced Lord Series. The other five libertines have discovered their true loves and it is now Arend’s turn. The plot begins where A Whisper of Desire (#4) ends, then runs parallel to A Taste of Seduction (#5) before going off on its own tangent. Arend, the dark horse, is the most enigmatic and haunted of the six friends and his mysterious back story is slowly revealed, one piece at a time, through his thoughts and Isobel’s probing questions. While the first two thirds of the book is riveting, the last third dragged, despite the climatic, although absurd conclusion. Yet the reader is glad to finally get some closure to the entire six book vengeance plot which uncovered some dark, unsavory incidents.
Arend’s sexual prowess was exciting at first, but became repetitious as the lovemaking became a one note chorus. A skilled lover should definitely have some varied tricks up his “sleeve” to satisfy a woman without compromising her virtue (which became silly once Isobel was no longer a virgin).
Staying true to the mores and vernacular of the Regency Period is not a forte of Evans, but she did wrap up the saga in a nice neat bow. Or did she? There are a few side characters who did not get their “happily ever afters”, so a couple future books are necessary to tidy things up.
A helpful addition to this book is the Preface by Christian Trent, the Earl of Markham, the featured character in A Kiss of Lies (the first book in The Disgraced Lord Series) who gives a brief overview of events, and the Meet the Libertine Scholars section containing an annotated list of the already featured Libertines (5) and their spouses. For the next book, I suggest Evans add in the various children and their origins (since not all of the offspring are a result of the various marriages). Additional characters (especially those to be featured in the upcoming books) should also be included.
Three and a half stars (it was a four star book for the first half) and a thank you to Netgalley and Loveswept Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.