Heart of Deception by Taylor Chase
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Anger rose to the fore, and he pulled away from her. "Nothing has changed. You still want to rule me."
Her eyes went black when he thwarted her, a darkness that could devour him. Then a small flame flickered in their depths. Silent laughter. "Maybe I want you so much because I can't rule you."
"That won't stop you from trying."
"Or you from resisting." Her lips curved, the small taunting smile mocking herself as well as him. "Are you afraid of losing?"
"No." A lie to add to all the other lies. Already too much had changed because of her.
"Then savor the struggle, my rebel." Viv laughed openly now. Her gleaming eyes invited him to join in the mockery.
This story reminded me that writing is a craft and when, it seems, authors are given time to research and develop their stories, they can transport you to different worlds. What a hidden gem this turned out to be.
The suspense/mystery storyline is more the focus than the romance; in fact, our leads have an instant attraction and later use the word love a bit out of the blue. But what a mystery storyline it was, there is a plot to poison Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with Mary Queen of Scots. Christopher Marlowe makes an appearance along with others as the hero's family is jailed for suspected treason. Our hero leaves the war in Netherlands and meets up with his friend (epic bromance complete with watery eyes, hugs, and friendship flashbacks) to try and find out who set his family up. I'm not going to lie, the cast of characters is large, complete with code names, and the tangled weave is difficult to follow and unravel but dang if it didn't interest me.
Even though the story starts off and initially seems to want to be from the hero, the heroine steals the spotlight and thunder. The backstories going on here, y'all! It almost felt like the heroine's part was first written for a male character and the author decided to switch it up and create one badass woman; one of the most real in her honesty, sexual desires, and sense of self. This was published 20yrs ago and it makes me want to weep with how many written heroines today fall very short of her.
This story has a fair bit of violence and I kind of want to call this a medium erotic, it's not the focus of the story but the sex scenes are descriptive and naughtily hot but not in the tone of cheap porn. This had a very All Through the Night by Connie Brockway feel to me, probably why I liked it.
Anyway, the focus in the mystery/suspense, the cast of characters gets a bit wide, fairly quick romantic relationship development, the end wraps up a bit quickly (the mystery was doled out fairly slowly only to have the players and explanations throw out in a rush), and a character with a paranormal (psychic) ability added very late in the game. However, this was very well written and the depth of the main characters, especially the heroine, was amazing. If you ever come across this book, snatch it up.
*I just saw that the author wrote a book featuring the character with a paranormal ability, so maybe not so randomly throw in as much as series bait.
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