Dark, handsome, cold, and heartless describe the hero of this new sensual Regency historical from Kat Martin.
This has a different plotline than most regencies. The heroine, beautiful at fourteen, trades poverty for schooling as a lady. The only problem --- she's promised to be the Earl of Grenville's mistress when she has finished at the academy for young ladies. Ariel had little notion of what all this entailed !!
The Earl of Grenville, had never acknowledged Justin's birth until he was faced with the reality of no heir. To prevent the family estates from going to a distant branch of the family, he finally adopts Justin, his bastard son.
Growing to manhood with no family, Justin has enclosed his heart from any kind of emotion. The author shows us his thoughts as he is pulled to Ariel; the unexpected inheritance he received from his father. We see him a wary traveler amid a heady brew of emotions unfamiliar and threatening to the self-reserve he has grown to encase his emotions over the years. His misconceptions lead to betrayal and distrust of the one thing he has never had - love.
So here we have a withdrawn, stoic, cold-appearing young man, who suddenly has the responsibility of another human being. Even though Ariel was a mistress-to-be for his father, Justin finds himself falling under her spell. Never having known love, he is naturally a little leery of putting his heart in someone else's care. He has to let love and trust penetrate the cold hard shell of what was his heart! By a senseless act of jealously, he almost loses what has become most precious to him. Both the hero and heroine are reluctant to trust, but are emotionally and sexually drawn to each other. They tentatively reach out to each other, but outside forces cause betrayal and pain to tear them apart.
The author showcases her skill at drawing out the complex fears and emotions of the hero and the heroine and makes one keep turning the pages. I noted one item that was not historically correct. The inheritance laws of England did not allow adoption of children to keep inheritance in the same branch of the family. I overlooked this as it was a central key to the storyline, (and it is a work of fiction, after all). This is not a typical Regency romp, but is almost Gothic in feeling --- the darkly handsome hero, the dangers that beset them, the unknown persons trying to kill Justin. The complex blends of love, trust, hate, and greed bind the story elements.
Heartless is a tale of love, betrayal, hope, greed and trust. Sensual tension starts early and simmers onward. Emotions roll and provide a constant background for the story.