Lady in Red: A Novel of Mad Passions, Book 2

Author: Máire Claremont

Publisher: Signet

Release Date: October 1, 2013

Blue Ribbon Rating: 5 + RR

Format: PRINT

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Sometimes I wonder how I happen upon such superb novels to review.  I never intend for it to happen even though I hope.  I choose books blindly, with only my instincts to guide me and so, I am always surprised when I read a book this amazing.  LADY IN RED will forever change me with its message.  It is dark—treacherous like a thief-ridden alleyway, wary until the end, where hope is finally realized.  So beautiful that it leaves you gasping for more.

Lady Mary escapes the asylum where she had been imprisoned, barely alive, addicted to the drugs they forced her to take.  Upon her escape, she presses forward with a sheer will to live, toward the only woman her mother ever trusted, Madame Yvonne.  Madame Yvonne will do anything for her dear departed friend's daughter, even if it means danger for herself.

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, visits Madame Yvonne's establishment in order to forget his past.  A past that's demon-laid with regret and shame.  One that no amount of his strength can ever leave behind, forgotten.  He seeks Madame Yvonne's council in that only a woman like her could fathom his pain and not question his need for oblivion.  That's where he meets his Calypso for the very first time, the Goddess of his heart, bathing in Yvonne's room.  Her instant terror and fierce reserve in finding herself alone in a room with the enemy, a man, solidifies his determination to help his Calypso to heal from her wounds.

Mary had been brutalized in the worst ways imaginable at the hands of her cruel "keepers" within the walls of an insane asylum.  Her own father had signed for her torture when he, as her guardian, imprisoned her within those walls.  That she escaped and helped another to do so at the same time was nothing short of miraculous.  She has nowhere else to go and no one she can trust other than Madame Yvonne, her mother's dearest friend.  It is that trust that she believes in when they realize that her father will find her, knowing that Yvonne's is the one place she would certainly seek as a refuge when she left the mad house.

Edward offers to take Mary as his mistress in order to keep her safe as her protector.  Mary agrees as long as it is on her terms.  Yvonne assures her that she has no choice and that Edward is a kind man.  Edward promises Mary that he will allow her the time she needs to accept their agreement.  Neither has any intention of giving their heart.

So begins their dance of Edward waiting to heal Mary, with Mary always wary and ready to run away.  When Edward introduces Mary to his best friend Viscount Powers to help her learn to defend herself, will his lessons go beyond what any of them desire?  Their triangle of friendship is as wanton as it is steadfast and increased my enjoyment of this novel exponentially.  Viscount Powers adds a dark humor that suits this book so well.

LADY IN RED is layer upon layer of intrigue formed by the characters' determination to survive their inner demons at all costs.  I've never read anything quite like it.  It is as devilishly sweet as it is evil personified, all while balancing the thin line between good and evil.  For those who love the intense thrall of a dark novel, you will be captivated.  A fascinating recommended read!

I cannot wait for book three, a novel of MAD PASSIONS, THE DARK AFFAIR, which stars Viscount Powers whom I fell for completely in LADY IN RED.  I didn't even notice that I was missing anything from the first book because I was so entranced with book two.  I won't hesitate to go backwards to read book one, THE DARK LADY, which is about Mary's friend from the asylum.  For those who have read book one, I'm sure you will enjoy the update about those characters.  I am spellbound by author Máire Claremont who has passionate and seductive depth enraptured with a touch of evil in her pen.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Dorine Linnen

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