Format: .mobi (Provided by publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review)
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Lady Margaret Cassidy left a life of nobility behind in Ireland, forsaking her grieving homeland to aid war-ravaged men in England. Still, she never expected a cruel turn of fate to lock her into an unwanted betrothal with one of her English patients—much less one as broken and dangerous as Viscount Powers.
Wrecked by his tragic past, Powers’ opiate-addled sanity hangs precariously in the balance, leaving him poised to destroy anyone who dares to utter the names of the wife and child he still so deeply mourns. So when he is forced to marry Margaret in exchange for freedom, he is shocked by the desire to earn her trust, her body, and—most alarming of all—her heart .
There's a touch of madness in author Maire Claremont's characters that make her stories so addictive!
After reading Lady in Red, I couldn't wait to see what Claremont had in store for the tragic and broken Viscount Powers. He seemed like such a lost cause at the end of the second book that I didn't know if there was any salvation for him. He's so far gone in the beginning of The Dark Affair that he makes underdogs look like an alpha dogs, but I think that's what made James Stanhope such an amazing character.
As a reader I saw him emotionally destroyed and physically drained. He had pretty much given up on life as he knew it and was rotting away in an asylum. He was addicted to morphine and near permanent madness, it can't get much worse than that. There's little about James that isn't revealed in the beginning of the book except for how his wife and daughter died and why he mourns them as if he was responsible for their deaths, yet I still found him to be such a powerful and interesting character. Surprisingly, as dangerous as James appears to be, his salvation comes in the form of his main caretaker, a mysterious woman named Margaret.
I could go on and on about how lovely Margaret looks but it was her extensive knowledge about addiction and her bravery that really hooked me. At the time The Dark Affair takes place, it's clear that not much was known about opium addiction so having Margaret actually know about the withdrawal symptoms made her a much more interesting character than most heroines and justified her hasty marriage to James.
The Dark Affair turns into a battle of wills as both James and Margaret set out to prove that they don't need each other but as they try to prove just that, they inadvertently become closer and learn about forgiveness, starting over and love.
With Maire's books, the happy ending isn't reached without blood, sweat and tears and her characters really have to work to get to the point where they can look back and say "It was all worth it." That to me makes for a very exciting and passionate book. Yes, this is a fictional romance story but there's a lot of reality in it too. The author doesn't gloss over the more prominent facts of life back in Victorian England, those facts become realistic and unpredictable obstacles for James and Margaret to overcome. Character growth is not a problem in this book, or even the series, as James and Margaret grow in leaps and bounds.
A very impressive start for the two characters, and a rough, bumpy path to recover and love. While James and Margaret are attracted to each other, their relationship (and marriage) isn't consummated until much later but I found that this left more time and room for them to learn about each other and how to trust one another without sex clouding the issue.
Final Verdict: The Dark Affair is a deliciously dark, sensual story that had me awake until the early morning hours and at the end, made me crave more from an author who is fast becoming one of my favorites!