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The Dark Lady

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The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor... Lord Ian Blake has returned from India a broken man. Years ago, he pledged to Lady Eva Carin—his childhood companion and first love—that he would bring her husband back alive. His failure h The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor... Lord Ian Blake has returned from India a broken man. Years ago, he pledged to Lady Eva Carin—his childhood companion and first love—that he would bring her husband back alive. His failure haunts him. But even his jaded soul can’t anticipate the shocking sight of beautiful, independent Eva confined in a madhouse. Locked in an asylum, forgotten by society, Eva is adrift in both body and mind. For Ian to break her free, they must cross a powerful enemy—and prove her sanity to England’s unforgiving aristocracy. But the biggest danger of all may come when the secrets of Eva’s tragic past are finally unlocked.


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The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor... Lord Ian Blake has returned from India a broken man. Years ago, he pledged to Lady Eva Carin—his childhood companion and first love—that he would bring her husband back alive. His failure h The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor... Lord Ian Blake has returned from India a broken man. Years ago, he pledged to Lady Eva Carin—his childhood companion and first love—that he would bring her husband back alive. His failure haunts him. But even his jaded soul can’t anticipate the shocking sight of beautiful, independent Eva confined in a madhouse. Locked in an asylum, forgotten by society, Eva is adrift in both body and mind. For Ian to break her free, they must cross a powerful enemy—and prove her sanity to England’s unforgiving aristocracy. But the biggest danger of all may come when the secrets of Eva’s tragic past are finally unlocked.

30 review for The Dark Lady

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest 💙 I read this for the Unapologetic Romance Readers' New Years 2018 Reading Challenge, for the category of: Victorian Romance. For more info on this challenge, click here. 💙 A couple years ago, I won a giveaway of the second book in this series, LADY IN RED, but I never read it because I am a trash person. It's not even that I lost the book: I can literally see it sitting right on my bookshelf across the room at this very moment. You see, Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest 💙 I read this for the Unapologetic Romance Readers' New Years 2018 Reading Challenge, for the category of: Victorian Romance. For more info on this challenge, click here. 💙 A couple years ago, I won a giveaway of the second book in this series, LADY IN RED, but I never read it because I am a trash person. It's not even that I lost the book: I can literally see it sitting right on my bookshelf across the room at this very moment. You see, I hadn't realized when I signed up for the giveaway that it was the 2nd book in the series, and that freaked me out a little. How could I read book 2 if I hadn't read book 1? What if there were...spoilers? Fast forward to late last year, when THE DARK LADY finally went on sale for Kindle. I say "finally" because I was literally stalking this book for years, waiting for the price to drop because I'm a cheapskate. If you're thinking to yourself, "That seems excessive, waiting several years for a price drop of a few dollars," welcome to Nenialand, pal - where I can spend $5 on a cup of coffee but have trouble rationalizing the purchase of an ebook for $4.99. THE DARK LADY is a fun book and really tries to follow in the footsteps of its Gothic predecessors from the 60s and 70s, but with the edgy modern twist of sex, scandal, and drugs. I'm a huge fan of Gothic Romances but they were notoriously tame and scarcely escalated beyond kissing. It's a shame, because some of them - Victoria Holt, in particular - were very sensual about their passions, and you could totally tell that they wanted to write a dirty story but probably didn't feel as though they were allowed. Well, you needn't worry about that in THE DARK LADY. There are several rather steamy scenes at various points in this book, floating atop the murky sea of angst like bits of erotic driftwood. Mostly, though, the focus of the book is on the angst of the two leads: Ian and Eva. I don't want to say too much about these characters, but Ian is an ex-soldier who served in India and Eva was recently imprisoned in a Bedlam-style madhouse. Both of them carry the burden of dark secrets and the sense of responsibility for things that really weren't their fault. These experiences have warped them considerably, and impact their ability to relate to one another, even though they were close as children. This relationship-focused angle of the book, set amidst the backdrop of filial obligation and responsibility, smacked of yet another one of my favorite Gothic Romance authors: Marilyn Harris. Harris is quite a bit darker and depraved when it comes to fleshing out her characters, though, and even though Ian and Eva are cast in a darker mold than many other contemporary romance heroes and heroines, they still pale in the shadows of that truly glorious madness that is the Eden family, Marilyn Harris's main claim to fame, and one of my favorite yet-to-be-completed-by-me series. The atmosphere of this book is dark and lovely, with many wonderful passages. Sometimes the writing can be a bit plodding, but I liked it for the most part because it was in keeping with the Gothic style. Like others, I thought the matter of Eva's opium addiction was resolved too cleanly (as soon as it was no longer convenient for the plot, really), but that's par for the course with most issues in Romancelandia, sadly. If it's no longer convenient, it's no longer in the plot. Bye, and don't let the deus ex machina hit you on the way out! The whole thing with Mrs. Palmer also seemed anticlimactic. I wanted to find out about her history and what turned her into such a revenge-getting, torture-happy crazypants-wearing individual. But no. Maybe this is dealt with in later books. I guess I'll finally be checking out LADY IN RED now! 3 stars

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Mac

    Gothic melodrama is a style that many writers can't handle, particularly in latter-day genre historicals. Current standards tend to gloss over anything that might cause the audience a glimmer of discomfort...but gothic melodrama needs that darker thread of plot. Without a looming darkness to propel the story along -- whether physical threats, abstract ghostly menace, or psychological baggage -- you're left with a bland genre romance. I'm not saying there shouldn't be a HEA in neo-gothic roms, bu Gothic melodrama is a style that many writers can't handle, particularly in latter-day genre historicals. Current standards tend to gloss over anything that might cause the audience a glimmer of discomfort...but gothic melodrama needs that darker thread of plot. Without a looming darkness to propel the story along -- whether physical threats, abstract ghostly menace, or psychological baggage -- you're left with a bland genre romance. I'm not saying there shouldn't be a HEA in neo-gothic roms, but the author of such a book can't be afraid to write about bad things happening to good people. The Dark Lady is such a book. It includes addiction, abuse (physical & mental), rape (peripherally), soured family ties, PTSD, & asswipes that profit from the suffering of others. It was much better than I thought it would be. :P The plot is somewhat Bronte-esque. Our hero Ian, recently returned from India, discovers his childhood friend & foster-sister (Eva) has been committed to an asylum by her avaricious foster-brother Thomas. Ian is still in love with Eva; left to their own devices, they'd have married before Ian went to war...but at the time they were both honor-bound to the (now deceased) patriarch of their foster-family. Rather than elope, Eva married their other foster-brother Hamilton before he & Ian went to war, while Ian promised he'd try to clamp down on Hamilton's destructive personality traits. Needless to say, the intervening years didn't bring out anyone's softer side. Through Ian's flashbacks we learn the extent of Hamilton's cruelty, culminating in the ultimate bag-o-guilt that Ian hauls back to England -- i.e., (view spoiler)[he allowed native assassins to murder his childhood companion (hide spoiler)] . When he learns the extent of Eva's abuse, he rescues her from the asylum & sets out to expose Thomas' underhanded assholery. Eva, meanwhile, believes (view spoiler)[she killed her own son (hide spoiler)] , so part of her doesn't want to be rescued from the addiction. It's not a bunnies & rainbows story. Ian was pretty badass, & he fought dirty with a huge chip on his shoulder -- my kind of hero. >:) He's perfectly willing to kill, & that's not counting the general bloodspray throughout ((view spoiler)[Mary's revenge is awesome (hide spoiler)] ). Eva's addiction was sad to watch. But I liked both characters. These were believably damaged people dealing with shitty circumstances, & I wanted them to reach that HEA. The baggage was legit. No undeserved whinging about missed seasons, fake-rake woobie disease, or "I'm so fugly, but I'm actually beautiful!" bullshit here. Likewise, the romance had depth because they already shared a substantial childhood history -- yes, their mutual survivor mentality was shorthand development, but it worked anyway. That said, it wasn't perfect. Eva's laudanum withdrawl was glossed too much for my liking; it seemed that her normalcy was unnecessarily sudden & complete, whereas a simple road-to-recovery closure would have been more fitting. Ian, in contrast, was too persistent in his martyred Feelz; I understood the cause, but he didn't need to flog himself for Hamilton's bullshit, particularly at the end of the book. The prose, too, could be somewhat heavy-handed. It reminded me of Lydia Joyce or Thea Devine -- highly verbose gloomth with lush gothic sensibility -- which I really like when I'm in the mood, but it won't suit everyone's taste. Occasionally it was a bit much, even for me. ...But overall I quite enjoyed it. Several scenes struck me as cinematic; my favorites were when Ian washes Eva's back at the inn (a touching show of mutual tenderness), Ian rescuing Eva on the moonlit lawn (he snapped a guy's neck, y'all *fans self*), & Eva's desperate attempt at seducing Ian for laudanum. (What?! I like macabre gothicness. :D) Props for a plot with legit baggage & strong violence. Props for a leading couple I actually cared about. Props for chemistry between said couple. Props for Mary, Eva's roommate & the heroine of Book 2...which I've already picked up. And props for daring to write something different in the blase crowd of cliched romance paperbacks. In short: gloomy, chewy goffick = pleasant surprise. :)

  3. 5 out of 5

    WhiskeyintheJar

    Recommended by Cherie 3.4 stars The first 5 chapters of this was dark, gothic, and vastly intriguing but as the story went on, it lost me. Ian and Eva spend most the time running and though they internally think about their connection, until the last 20% or so when they start the touching/coming together, I didn't feel their passion for one another. The middle was greatly stretched out and the ending rushed as Eva's addiction wasn't dealt with and the asylum storyline left hanging for future books Recommended by Cherie 3.4 stars The first 5 chapters of this was dark, gothic, and vastly intriguing but as the story went on, it lost me. Ian and Eva spend most the time running and though they internally think about their connection, until the last 20% or so when they start the touching/coming together, I didn't feel their passion for one another. The middle was greatly stretched out and the ending rushed as Eva's addiction wasn't dealt with and the asylum storyline left hanging for future books. There's something here to the author's writing, though. She was great at creating atmosphere but her characters need a more structured plot line to follow. The fresh take and tone for this time period has me continuing on in the series, this author's voice has me very interested. Thanks for the rec, Cherie!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (BAVR)

    I've been waiting so long for an HR that opens in an asylum (because I'm creepy), and The Dark Lady sort of / kind of attempts to make my dreams come true. It doesn't fail outright, but it does lose most of its balls in the middle. He's sad because he lost his balls, too. My obsession with somehow fitting an asylum-bound woman into a romance novel started in college when I was really high on my kick as a newly energized feminist. I was all, "OMG, they locked women in asylums just for being as I've been waiting so long for an HR that opens in an asylum (because I'm creepy), and The Dark Lady sort of / kind of attempts to make my dreams come true. It doesn't fail outright, but it does lose most of its balls in the middle. He's sad because he lost his balls, too. My obsession with somehow fitting an asylum-bound woman into a romance novel started in college when I was really high on my kick as a newly energized feminist. I was all, "OMG, they locked women in asylums just for being assertive or having sex outside marriage. WTF?" So I tried to write my own historical romance about a young woman thrown in an asylum, and ... well, I never finished it. Because it sucked. I'm actually grateful that my husband managed to destroy my college computer with a virus so the unfinished story can't come back to haunt me someday. Therefore, kudos to YOU, Maire Claremont, for beating me at everything. The Story Lord Ian Blake returns from battle in India, a broken man from all the killing and the death of his best friend, intending to make amends for his mistakes. His first priority is Lady Eva Carin, the woman he's always loved and the widow of the conveniently dead best friend. Ian is mortified to learn that Eva's brother-in-law had her committed to an asylum in the middle of nowhere. The asylum, of course, turns out to be no better than a shack of horrors for wealthy guys to send their daughters and wives when the woman stop being convenient to them. Now Ian has to prove that Eva, who apparently lost her bananas over the deaths of her husband and their infant child, isn't really crazy. However, laudanum-addicted Eva makes proving her sanity very, VERY difficult. Also, they have to fit in sex somewhere, because OBVIOUSLY. The opening is very good, kind of gothic and creepy. Claremont does a wonderful job of setting the scene in the asylum, and she doesn't hesitate to GO THERE where other authors would back off. (view spoiler)[Rape, beatings, murder, madness - she covers them all. (hide spoiler)] I'm personally not a fan of the melodramatic prose used in The Dark Lady, but the story caught my attention. I had so much fun reading the parts where Ian attempts to make Eva quit laudanum cold turkey, and her reaction is basically this: But then the balls, you guys, they went away! It was only a matter of time, I suppose. Claremont had to make Eva "sane" again, but in doing so, (view spoiler)[she negated all the madness from before (hide spoiler)] . A story about a woman driven batty by tragedy and the inhumanities of a Victorian asylum unfortunately transforms into every other romance story you read about lost love and regret. Ian does so much navel-gazing in this book that I'm fairly confident he loves his belly button more than Eva. I would have liked Ian so much better if he didn't whine all the time. His big, bad, dark secret is actually legit, though. Do NOT read within the spoiler tags if you plan to read the book. Don't do it. No, I'm serious, stop looking. (view spoiler)[Ian basically let some men KILL his best friend/Eva's husband in India. Granted, the guy was a huge dick, but most heroes have more mercy than that. I'm not saying that Ian's a cold-blooded murderer or anything, but maybe his remaining friends should watch out if they're walking with Ian when a speeding curricle comes by. That's all I'm saying. (hide spoiler)] The romance is promising in the beginning but turns stale very fast. I tend to like stories that feature a couple with a past. Years of longing can build some monstrous sexual tension. Unfortunately, Ian and Eva are too tortured as individuals to make me care about their romance. Too much thinking about sad things and not enough learning to love each other in the moment. (view spoiler)[This isn't helped when Claremont basically fast-forwards through Eva's recovery. How, exactly, does she beat laudanum? We'll never know! (hide spoiler)] Did I mention that the prose is too laborious for my taste? Here's the first line, and the rest of the story follows in this same depressing web of angst: The road stretched on like a line of corrupting filth in the pristine snow. You know you're in for a case of teh feelz when a road is given such a sinister description. And here's a sampling of Ian wallowing in his feelz: How he wished he could agree with her, that they might find acceptance. It would be so easy to lie. To open his mouth and ease her with platitudes. He couldn't do it. She didn't understand him. She couldn't. Get this guy a puppy or something. 3-stars for the concept, the functioning grammar, and the excellent beginning.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Renae

    The Dark Lady by Máire Claremont is an angsty Gothic romance that has the guts to try something really unique...but doesn’t have the guts to actually follow through with its premise. Women in insane asylums. A horrifying reality for many women in the 19th century, especially those who didn’t toe the Party Line. This is where The Dark Lady opens, as Eva cowers in her cell, high on the laudanum her jailors force-feed her, waiting for those same jailors to come and rape her in the night like they al The Dark Lady by Máire Claremont is an angsty Gothic romance that has the guts to try something really unique...but doesn’t have the guts to actually follow through with its premise. Women in insane asylums. A horrifying reality for many women in the 19th century, especially those who didn’t toe the Party Line. This is where The Dark Lady opens, as Eva cowers in her cell, high on the laudanum her jailors force-feed her, waiting for those same jailors to come and rape her in the night like they always do. The first few chapters of this book are unforgettable, as Claremont slices cleanly through the sanitized portrayals of Victorian England you’re most likely to find in a romance novel. But, for some reason, the book can’t maintain the combination of reality and Gothic horror for more than those first few scenes. Before long, Eva is rescued by her childhood friend, Ian, and after a quick wand-waving sequence, she’s miraculously free of her opioid addiction and declared mentally competent by no less than Queen Victoria’s own doctor. Magic! Of course there are some very caricaturesque villains in the picture, including Eva’s own now-dead husband. Said villains are vanquished quite easily and the sugary-sweet epilogue would put even the fluffiest romance author to shame. Basically, what I’m saying is: The Dark Lady is like that little girl who wants so badly to be a rebel but all she does is yell at her parents and yell “you’re not the boss of me!” This book wants to be a dark and angsty Gothic, but is just your average historical romance with some purple prose and a couple chapters set in an insane asylum. Disappointing, to say the least. The biggest let-down in this whole book is how the author deals with Eva’s addiction. It’s set up to be a massive conflict throughout the first half, as Ian attempts to keep Eva clean while she systematically undermines all of his efforts to get her hands on the drug. Yet as soon as Ian drags her back to his castle in Devonshire and gives her some clean clothes, the addiction is never mentioned again. A) that’s just not realistic, and B) what a missed opportunity! Laudanum was something used by wealthy women all over England, and I think Claremont could have done something really interesting by exploring her protagonists’ struggle with addiction in this context. But, honestly, the addiction issue just wasn’t convenient to the plot any longer, so away it went. In general, that’s how all of The Dark Lady proceeds. The author tosses in a lot of conflict, but the conflict will only remain so long as it’s convenient. As soon as the conflict is just unnecessarily dragging the story down, it’s zapped into oblivion. In short order, Eva’s addiction, her evil brother in law, and the issue of her sanity are all dealt with and resolved with great dispatch. The problems in this book are serious, and they should require difficult solutions; instead, everything comes easily to Eva and Ian. What’s left, then, is plodding, langurous prose that allows for a lot of navel-gazing and angst. And while angst is fine and good, it’s silly to have characters bemoaning their hard lives when some authorial hand in the sky is systematically removing all of the obstacles that bar them from eternal happiness. I absolutely loved The Dark Lady...for about three chapters. This book is not nearly as good as it seemed likely to be, and I think it’s clear that the issue is poor plotting and lack of follow-through. Máire Claremont isn’t a terrible writer, and she obviously had a good idea. But the different pieces didn’t come together as they should have. 📌 . Blog | Review Database | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Allen

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Backstory: Her husband (who was kind of a dick) died in the war in India. Her baby died in a carriage accident. Her creepy brother-in-law had her doped up and stuck in a nuthouse (where everybody got raped on a regular basis except the heroine because she had stretch marks and everyone knows rapists can't get it up in the presence of stretch marks) and told all of society her poor fragile mind had shattered and she was recuperating at a spa in Europe. Clearly, creepy brother-in-law is villainous Backstory: Her husband (who was kind of a dick) died in the war in India. Her baby died in a carriage accident. Her creepy brother-in-law had her doped up and stuck in a nuthouse (where everybody got raped on a regular basis except the heroine because she had stretch marks and everyone knows rapists can't get it up in the presence of stretch marks) and told all of society her poor fragile mind had shattered and she was recuperating at a spa in Europe. Clearly, creepy brother-in-law is villainous scum. More villainous was the mistress of the nuthouse, who made quite a lot of money keeping these inconvenient women locked up and whoring them out and was none too pleased to have the heroine escape and seemed pretty damned determined to kill that slippery little bitch... until it was time to wrap things up and she just disappeared from the story. Not even "and the evil mistress of the nuthouse absconded and could not be found by the authorities," just "IMA DESTROY THAT BITCH AND EVERYTHING SHE HOLDS DEAR" on page 237, and then never another word about her for the last 76 pages. Cuz, yanno, she was just on her period when she had all those mood swings, and then it was over and everything was chill. So they get the heroine legally declared sane so her creepy brother-in-law no longer has guardianship over her and can't stick her back in the nuthouse. They are able to have her declared sane because she has detoxed from her year of forced dope addiction and slowly, painfully come to terms with the death of her husband and son. But while that's healthy and all, it's not HAPPY ENOUGH FOR A ROMANCE NOVEL. So her creepy brother-in-law arranges a meeting, where he tells her HER SON WAS NEVER DEAD AT ALL! HE WAS JUST KIDDING! LOL! Because although he's an unconscionable bastard who arranged all this because he didn't want to lose the title (which came to him after his brother died) to his brother's son, he's not so unconscionable he'd drop a rock on that little fucker's head to make sure he was dead and never a threat to his position. (He is not familiar with the concept of "double tap.") AND FOR ONCE, HE IS TELLING THE TRUTH! HER SON IS ALIVE AND WELL AND HAS BEEN WELL CARED FOR BY LOVING PEASANTS ALL THIS TIME! So she gets her son back and all is beautiful and shiny in the world. Obligatory baby epilogue and The End. And to think, toward the beginning, I was thinking how refreshing it was to read something that (other than the "stretch marks are boner death for rapists" bullshit) didn't flinch from ugliness. I foolishly thought this might actually pull off "the human spirit can triumph even under the most abhorrent circumstances." Nope. Handwave. Lose nothing, win everything, enjoy your beautiful life of rainbows and puppy kisses.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I have been eagerly anticipating Máire Claremont's debut as it sounded lush and unique and I am pleased to say she delivered! This haunting tale of love lost and then slowly found again was a pleasure to get lost in. Lady Eva Carin suffered the greatest loss a mother can bear and while she was in the depths of her despair, her brother-in-law deems her insane and locks her in an asylum where her soul is drowned in laudanum and everything is dark, depressing and horrifying. Lord Ian Blake knows it I have been eagerly anticipating Máire Claremont's debut as it sounded lush and unique and I am pleased to say she delivered! This haunting tale of love lost and then slowly found again was a pleasure to get lost in. Lady Eva Carin suffered the greatest loss a mother can bear and while she was in the depths of her despair, her brother-in-law deems her insane and locks her in an asylum where her soul is drowned in laudanum and everything is dark, depressing and horrifying. Lord Ian Blake knows it is his duty to find Eva and bring her back to herself, after all, he is the one that watched her husband die, his best friend. Ian and Eva have been drawn to each other since children and when he arrives for her in the madhouse, Eva can hardly believe it. A daring escape is just the start of the new troubles that will follow Eva and Ian. Eva needs to recover, not just from her addiction to laudanum, but also to prove she is clear of mind to finally be free and she opens her heart to Ian. However, Ian has seen to many horrors to believe he can be good for her and struggles to deny his feelings and hope for a bright, new future together. Somehow this couple must push through the past and grasp what is waiting for them without losing each other in the process. . . Such a hauntingly, wonderful, tear inducing story! I was unsure how Eva was going to recover from her trauma enough to find love but her past with Ian is a strong foundation that could not be shaken and survived even through the darkest of hours. This story will grab you right from the beginning and it just keeps going with wonderful twists and drama. I would have liked to have seen a bit more in Eva's recovery...I felt it happened just a little bit too easily for what she must have endured. But, then again, her love and trust in Ian was strong enough to keep her going. There are a few loose threads that I would have liked to have been resolved but I am guessing that they continue into the next story so I am very anxious for that story...now. I usually say a book could be shorter, but this one could have been a bit longer and I would not have complained! The writing was lovely and lush and I liked watching Ian overcome his grief of his past through the flashbacks. Eva and Ian endured so much separately that you just knew that together they would be whole. Eva is a stong woman with a determination that really shined. I thought I had guessed the ending (well I was hoping anyways) and I loved the little twist as it had my heart racing to keep reading! If you are looking for something different away from the glitz of the ton, The Dark Lady is the romance for you as it delivers angst, depression, betrayal, and action as it leads up to a true love so strong, nothing will hold it back. Well done Ms Claremont. Well done. 4 1/2 stars (This was not a review copy. Amazon shipped it two weeks early, yay!)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cathryn

    HR rating disclaimer: You'll find most HR books for me are rated 4 stars. I can't be objective with them unless they are truly horrendous or one of my favorite authors has really let me down. Review to come. HR rating disclaimer: You'll find most HR books for me are rated 4 stars. I can't be objective with them unless they are truly horrendous or one of my favorite authors has really let me down. Review to come.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Gene

    The heroine annoyed me. Not enough substance, I ended up skimming most of it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Spencer

    I gave this a C- at All About Romance, so 2.5 stars. The Dark Lady is one of those books that intrigued me from the moment I saw the synopsis - drug-addicted heroine, dark and gothic-sounding plot - I really looked forward to this debut. And then I read it. It caught my attention at first, but ultimately ended up a major disappointment. As the book opens, Lord Ian Blake has returned from India, obviously in pain and deeply burdened. The opening of the book has an almost gothic tinge to it as Ian I gave this a C- at All About Romance, so 2.5 stars. The Dark Lady is one of those books that intrigued me from the moment I saw the synopsis - drug-addicted heroine, dark and gothic-sounding plot - I really looked forward to this debut. And then I read it. It caught my attention at first, but ultimately ended up a major disappointment. As the book opens, Lord Ian Blake has returned from India, obviously in pain and deeply burdened. The opening of the book has an almost gothic tinge to it as Ian approaches Carridan Hall in search of his beloved Eva, Lady Carin. With just a few short paragraphs, the author has shown us that Ian is miserable and guilty over the fact that his friend Hamilton was killed in India, that he seeks to make amends somehow to Hamilton's widow, and that he loves her. The mood is set, and in the beginning, the writing in this book is strong and compelling. Upon reaching Carridan, Ian learns that not only has Eva lost her husband, but that her son has died as well, and Eva herself is an inmate in an asylum. Ian goes to see her, and finds himself horrified at the conditions in which she is kept. Unkempt and heavily sedated with laudanum, Eva is far from the vivacious creature of Ian's memory. Ian immediately decides to rescue her from the asylum, and manages to spirit her away. And it is around this time that things start to fall apart. This is a partial review. You can find the complete text at All About Romance: http://likesbooks.com/cgi-bin/bookRev...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth

    This book had great potential. I did not hate it...but I didn't love it either. There were parts with excellent writing but things the hero and heroine did were so stupid at times. Everyone knows that you cannot leave an addict alone. You cannot leave him on his own. And I doubt it was any different in those times. Especially since Ian had experienced addiction during the war. Yet, he is off in a huff when he fights with Eva. What does Eva do? Exactly the thing every addict would do...off to fin This book had great potential. I did not hate it...but I didn't love it either. There were parts with excellent writing but things the hero and heroine did were so stupid at times. Everyone knows that you cannot leave an addict alone. You cannot leave him on his own. And I doubt it was any different in those times. Especially since Ian had experienced addiction during the war. Yet, he is off in a huff when he fights with Eva. What does Eva do? Exactly the thing every addict would do...off to find the next fix. Awesome. A couple of pages later he does the same thing again. From the middle on the book fell apart. It felt rushed and not thought through. The villains didn't get much love, you were only given glimpses. On the other hand it dragged on and on. I do have hope however, as I said, some parts were brilliantly written. So I shall read the next installment.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Pamela / SpazP

    I enjoyed several components of this book, particularly the dark Victorian setting and the creepy asylum the heroine is imprisoned at. There is a scene in the beginning of the book that had me holding my breathe, it was so intense. I love the trope of friends to lovers, and in this case the hero and heroine have loved each other since they could remember, but they were separated by duty. I love that shit. :P However, the story for me fell apart somewhere around the middle of the book. The romanc I enjoyed several components of this book, particularly the dark Victorian setting and the creepy asylum the heroine is imprisoned at. There is a scene in the beginning of the book that had me holding my breathe, it was so intense. I love the trope of friends to lovers, and in this case the hero and heroine have loved each other since they could remember, but they were separated by duty. I love that shit. :P However, the story for me fell apart somewhere around the middle of the book. The romance became flat and by the end I just felt like the dialog between h/h was cheesey. I wish I'd enjoyed it more because the first 25% of the book kicked major ass. It just ran out of steam for me.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    I received a copy of this from Goodreads First Reads for review. I read about a third of it and then skimmed the rest. It was just boring and lacking in the romance department (and hello-it's a romance novel!). Claremont writes with flowery, melodramatic writing, and it's just over the top. For example, she uses the word "thus" too much and her writing style is of the dark and stormy night variety. I wasn't invested in the hero and heroine (boring and not too much chemistry). So I made this one I received a copy of this from Goodreads First Reads for review. I read about a third of it and then skimmed the rest. It was just boring and lacking in the romance department (and hello-it's a romance novel!). Claremont writes with flowery, melodramatic writing, and it's just over the top. For example, she uses the word "thus" too much and her writing style is of the dark and stormy night variety. I wasn't invested in the hero and heroine (boring and not too much chemistry). So I made this one a DNF.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Taryn

    All the trigger warnings for this one, seriously. Eva and Ian grew up together as wards of the same mercurial man. They always had a thing for each other but couldn’t act on it because of an unspoken understanding that Eva would marry Hamilton, the son of their benefactor. Flash forward a few years—Eva and Hamilton get married, Hamilton and Ian ship off to India to serve in the military, and while they’re gone bad things happen, both for them and for Eva. Now Hamilton is dead, Eva has been commi All the trigger warnings for this one, seriously. Eva and Ian grew up together as wards of the same mercurial man. They always had a thing for each other but couldn’t act on it because of an unspoken understanding that Eva would marry Hamilton, the son of their benefactor. Flash forward a few years—Eva and Hamilton get married, Hamilton and Ian ship off to India to serve in the military, and while they’re gone bad things happen, both for them and for Eva. Now Hamilton is dead, Eva has been committed to an asylum, and Ian is coming back to England to try to fix all the things. Both Ian and Eva are dealing with some serious guilt over their feelings for each other, their past misdeeds, and how bad of a person Hamilton turned out to be (and how responsible they each feel for that). But as we all know, guilt can only keep you from ripping each other’s clothes off for so long. If you’re in the mood for dark and tragic (but, you know, by the end things will be worked out because this is Romancelandia), you can’t do better than The Dark Lady.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carol Cork *Young at Heart Oldie*

    **4.5 ENGROSSING STARS** I do admire authors who are willing to go beyond the established boundaries of historical romance and Maire Claremont has done just that in her dark, intense, debut novel, THE DARK LADY. Ms Claremont’s writing is both evocative…the chilling reality of conditions in the madhouse was so vivid that I felt that I was right there with Ian, experiencing everything he did as he entered that hellish place: It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the gloom. And as his eyes adjust **4.5 ENGROSSING STARS** I do admire authors who are willing to go beyond the established boundaries of historical romance and Maire Claremont has done just that in her dark, intense, debut novel, THE DARK LADY. Ms Claremont’s writing is both evocative…the chilling reality of conditions in the madhouse was so vivid that I felt that I was right there with Ian, experiencing everything he did as he entered that hellish place: It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the gloom. And as his eyes adjusted, the scent assailed him. Lord, the smell of lye was far preferable to the wretched stench of unwashed human and raw fear permeating the stagnant indoor air. and emotive…I found myself sharing all the doubts and fears that Eva felt… “I don’t know myself anymore.” Her slender fingers curled as she lingered, looking out to the street below. “How do I find myself again?” I loved the complexity of Eva’s character as she struggles to overcome her laudanum addiction and her overwhelming feelings of grief and guilt, believing her irresponsible actions caused the death of her son, Adam. Her journey isn’t easy but she is stronger than she thinks. Ian is haunted by feelings of guilt over his friend’s death and harbors a terrible secret that makes him believe himself unworthy of Eva’s love. Not only do they have to face their own personal demons but also the malignant forces that are determined to destroy them. I loved how Ian did everything to protect Eva and prove that she was sane. These two truly deserved to find happiness. There are memorable secondary characters: Eva’s friend, Mary – who selflessly aids Eva to escape…I can’t wait to read her story in Lady in Red Ian’s Aunt Elizabeth – kind, perceptive and pragmatic Ian’s friend, the Earl of Wyndham – a former spy who aides them and provides some much needed humour Mrs Palmer who runs the madhouse -she repulsed me but, at the same time, intrigued me Thomas , Eva’s brother-in-law – a creepy loner The plot has plenty of heart-stopping action, as Ian and Eva keep one step ahead of the villains. The ending is both surprising and heart-warming…a truly hard-won Happy Ever After. If you are in the mood for something dark and intense with an original plotline, fascinating characters, suspense, romance and a heart-warming ending, I can definitely recommend this book. REVIEW RATING: 4.5/5 Stars Mad Passions series to date (click on cover for more details): A Lady Undone - 4 Feb 2014 - 4 March 2014

  16. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    The first word that came out of my mouth as I’ve finished reading this story was WOW… and then I exhaled. ‘The Dark Lady’ by Máire Claremont is her début, and what a début it is! If you’re like me, one of those bookworms that have a need for the book to grab them from the first page, then you’re in luck if you decide to read this book. You’ll be on pins and needles ‘till the end. For a change this story develops in 1865, Victorian era and what a contrast to Regency era it is. For some reason it loo The first word that came out of my mouth as I’ve finished reading this story was WOW… and then I exhaled. ‘The Dark Lady’ by Máire Claremont is her début, and what a début it is! If you’re like me, one of those bookworms that have a need for the book to grab them from the first page, then you’re in luck if you decide to read this book. You’ll be on pins and needles ‘till the end. For a change this story develops in 1865, Victorian era and what a contrast to Regency era it is. For some reason it looks like women suffered even worse than in the earlier years. This is the case with our heroine. This woman, as the story opens, is in hell and she’s hanging by a thread. Lady Eva Carin not only lost her husband, but soon after suffered a loss even greater than that, a loss of her son in an accident of her making. Thomas, her brother-in-law who is now the new Lord Carin, uses her pain and devastation to his advantage and commits her to an asylum in which for the past two years she’s endured many ‘disciplinary’ treatments ordered by the woman who runs the place, such as a regular dose of opium to a point of addiction, many beatings and more. Lord Ian Blake is back from India and as much as he dreads coming face to face with Eva, he knows that he ows her the truth about Hamilton’s death, and feel that this as his only opportunity of redeeming himself in her eyes and coming to terms with his role in it. He’s been haunted with memories of not just Hamilton’s death but also with their life as children as all three have grown up together in a wonderful home provided by Hamilton’s father, Lord Carin. He took in both Eva and Ian after their individual parents died. As they grew together, boys were always vying for love and approval of the old man but it was Hamilton who started envying the bond that had developed between his father and Ian. Ian on the other hand hadn’t realized that his earnest admiration and love for Lord Carin was a sore point to his best friend so whatever he did to please him, Hamilton viewed it as a challenge and affront to his own character. Even Eva was in some way touched by their rivalry. While they all were aware of her duty to marry Hamilton, they also realized that she had more in common with Ian than Hamilton, but neither Eva nor Ian voiced their thoughts or feelings out loud as that would be a breach of duty and bring much hurt to the man who they both loved like a father. Ian is shocked to find out that she’s been committed, but once he enters the hell she’s been living, he is livid and enraged. The only thing stopping him from committing murder is the thought ....Thanks for jumping over to b2b to finish reading the rest of my review... http://bookworm2bookworm.wordpress.co... Mel for b2b *Book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jovon Tucker

    First off, let me begin by saying that while I do enjoy a good romance novel every now and then, they are not my favorite genre. However, the Dark Lady by Máire Claremont, coming out February 5th 2013, is just that. A GREAT romance novel! The reason I'm not too fussed on romances is because to me, they seem to focus mostly on the sexual escapades of the characters rather than the rest of the storyline. In my opinion, they usually are bordering on erotica more than romance. I can usually guess wh First off, let me begin by saying that while I do enjoy a good romance novel every now and then, they are not my favorite genre. However, the Dark Lady by Máire Claremont, coming out February 5th 2013, is just that. A GREAT romance novel! The reason I'm not too fussed on romances is because to me, they seem to focus mostly on the sexual escapades of the characters rather than the rest of the storyline. In my opinion, they usually are bordering on erotica more than romance. I can usually guess what's going to happen and overall I just feel the plots draw on and on. The Dark Lady by Máire Claremont set in 1865 is definitely NOT one of these drab and predictable story lines! From chapter 1, I was drawn in to the dark, sorrowful, and horrific madhouse that Lady Eva Carin has been subjected to for two years! Thrown into what could only be described as the very pits of Hell by her brother-in-law, Thomas. Eva is beaten, molested, put under constant darkness and more. All under the watchful eye of Mrs. Palmer; the woman who runs the asylum. Ian Blake, Eva's late husband, Hamilton and herself, all grow up together in a wonderful estate in England. With Hamilton always trying to outdo the naturally more inclined Ian in everything from sports to winning Eva's affection (she was betrothed to Hamilton) and even the late Lord Carin's love. Throughout this entire book, I was trying to guess what was happening next and was delightfully surprised when I was wrong! Claremont kept me guessing and looking forward to the plot!  =] The relationship that blossoms between the tortured souls of Ian and Eva is really quite beautiful! Each have unspeakable secrets. Each have something weighing them down. Drowning in guilt. Between the two, and some help from loved and trusted friends, the childhood loves begin to come into themselves. Into their own rights. I love the character progression. It was not dull nor drawn out. Instead, the skirmishes that took place were exciting and I held my breath, waiting to read who comes out as the victor! For a great love story, peppered with some action, addictions, a little betrayal, and just a dash of sex, the Dark Lady by Máire Claremont is the book for you! I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be recommending it to my friends! Claremont does not go with the "norm" on this one and because of that, I think the Dark Lady will be a great hit and simply fly off the shelves! Look out to get your copy of the Dark Lady by Máire Claremont on February 5th 2013! **Just a little disclosure here. I was able to get an ARC copy of the Dark Lady through a website I love! I obtained this wonderful book legally.  =] Check out my blog, Book2Buzz st http;//www.book2buzz.blogspot.com

  18. 5 out of 5

    Keri

    MC is a NTM and her new series is intriguing and dark. I enjoyed the book overall, just wish more attention had been paid to Eva's laudanum addiction recovery. It was so commented on, that I expected more on that aspect. I was happy at the ending and hoping that was they way it would end. I am expecting great thins from MC and have ordered the 2nd one in the series. Mary's story is going to be a must read for me for sure. MC is a NTM and her new series is intriguing and dark. I enjoyed the book overall, just wish more attention had been paid to Eva's laudanum addiction recovery. It was so commented on, that I expected more on that aspect. I was happy at the ending and hoping that was they way it would end. I am expecting great thins from MC and have ordered the 2nd one in the series. Mary's story is going to be a must read for me for sure.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Octobur Frost

    I'm not one for adult romance, but I'm a sucker for books set in Victorian age, and also asylums and mad women. I'm not one for adult romance, but I'm a sucker for books set in Victorian age, and also asylums and mad women.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ingrid Hahn

    Flawless writing. Romance at it's absolute best. Interesting story, strong and engaging characters, perfectly paced. Loved. Loved. Loved. Flawless writing. Romance at it's absolute best. Interesting story, strong and engaging characters, perfectly paced. Loved. Loved. Loved.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jen Davis

    Maire Claremont is embracing the dark side of Victorian London with this first installment of her Mad Passions series. Our heroine, Eva, isn't mad, but after what she has endured, no one hesitates to believe her late husband's brother when he claims otherwise. Not only did her husband Hamilton die, but she lost their young son shortly afterwards. Evil brother-in-law had her committed to a madhouse, where she has been locked away for the past two years. The conditions Eva is forced to live with ar Maire Claremont is embracing the dark side of Victorian London with this first installment of her Mad Passions series. Our heroine, Eva, isn't mad, but after what she has endured, no one hesitates to believe her late husband's brother when he claims otherwise. Not only did her husband Hamilton die, but she lost their young son shortly afterwards. Evil brother-in-law had her committed to a madhouse, where she has been locked away for the past two years. The conditions Eva is forced to live with are subhuman. The women are drugged... abused... violated. And she would have stayed there to rot, if not for the return of her childhood friend, Ian. As children, Eva, Ian, and Hamilton were inseparable, the best of friends. The were all raised by Hamilton's father, who set up the betrothal of Eva and his son, before anyone was old enough to know their own hearts or minds. Ian was the golden boy, and Hamilton became increasingly jealous and bitter that his father seemed to prefer his cousin. The insidious feelings transformed Hamilton into a twisted man, which ultimately led to his own death. Ian has always loved Eva, so when he saves her, his heart can't help but beat for her. Yet he has so much guilt wrapped up in Hamilton's death (and about the fact he wasn't there to save Eva sooner) that it cripples his ability to give in to his feelings. Eva needs him, though, to help her beat her forced addictions... to elude her brother in law and the fiends hunting her from the asylum... and to prove her sanity. It was so angsty and dark. I really enjoyed the vast majority of the book. The conditions in the madhouse were absolutely chilling. And what was done Eva was heartbreaking. But in contrast, the tentative steps Eva and Ian take toward love and solace are so satisfying. Ian is so utterly devoted to saving Eva in every way, to keeping her safe forever. And she manages to find this inner strength, to rise above the horrors she has endured. Both are so damaged by the past. I got so wrapped up in reading it. It was very engaging. It wasn't perfect, though. The end of the book didn't fit for me... it didn't keep with the tone of all that came before it. It was just too happy and perfect after all we went through with these two. It took away something from the struggle they triumphed over (if that makes sense.) Overall, I did like the book. I liked that Clairmont wasn't afraid to "go there," especially in the first half. And I am very intrigued to read Mary's story. There is so much great material to mine from among the women in that asylum. *ARC provided author for review

  22. 5 out of 5

    Korey

    I enjoyed this a lot. Claremont nails the dark, gothic atmosphere. Her writing is very vivid. Eva and Ian were compelling characters and together they were a couple that I really rooted for. The narrative alternates between the present and the past where we get flashbacks fleshing out the relationship between Ian, Eva and Hamilton. In the present Ian, returned from battle in India, is nursing his guilt over the death of Eva's husband and their mutual friend Hamilton and Eva has been institutiona I enjoyed this a lot. Claremont nails the dark, gothic atmosphere. Her writing is very vivid. Eva and Ian were compelling characters and together they were a couple that I really rooted for. The narrative alternates between the present and the past where we get flashbacks fleshing out the relationship between Ian, Eva and Hamilton. In the present Ian, returned from battle in India, is nursing his guilt over the death of Eva's husband and their mutual friend Hamilton and Eva has been institutionalized following the death of her young son (view spoiler)[ who naturally, we find out at the end of the book is not dead, his death was faked by her devious brother (hide spoiler)] . She is kept in horrible circumstances, starved and abused by the asylum workers and addicted to laudanum. When Ian breaks her out of the asylum under false pretenses, Ian and Eva reconnect while trying to evade capture. I appreciated how Claremont wrote Ian and Eva's interactions in both the present and in the flashbacks. In the present Claremont does a good job balancing serious heart to hearts and commiseration over shared tragedy with a few lighter moments of connection. In the flashbacks we learn how these childhood sweethearts were kept apart by a sense of duty to Hamilton's father, and Hamilton himself. For a lot of the book Ian has a somewhat of a "I must control you for your own protection, fragile woman" thing going on but a) it's not really inappropriate given the circumstances (Eva is weakened from the brutal conditions of the asylum, detoxing from laudanum and being pursued by the murderous asylum keeper) and b) by the end of the book Ian actually realizes that his over protectiveness might do more harm than good. There are a few things brushed over a little too quickly en route to the climax (primarily Eva's withdrawal) but I would still highly recommend this.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Judith

    This is a beautifully written story that is set in the Victorian era, is focused on the hurts and damage that comes when a society continues to view women as expendable unless they behave as gentled lap dogs, who conform to the social norms of beauty without brains, and who sometimes stand in the way of one man's greed and avarice and insatiable hunger for power. Then the hidden horror of "asylum," especially private institutions who destroy women who must be silenced, who are simply impairments This is a beautifully written story that is set in the Victorian era, is focused on the hurts and damage that comes when a society continues to view women as expendable unless they behave as gentled lap dogs, who conform to the social norms of beauty without brains, and who sometimes stand in the way of one man's greed and avarice and insatiable hunger for power. Then the hidden horror of "asylum," especially private institutions who destroy women who must be silenced, who are simply impairments to a climb up the power ladder. Here you also have a hero who is himself a broken man, one whose sense of honor has been damaged beyond all recall, or so he has come to believe. Again it is a social norm that accidents aren't supposed to happen, people aren't supposed to be killed because they have driven their victims to the brink of despair, that friends are responsible for one another no matter how unworthy one party may be. So it is that Lady Carin and Lord Ian Blakely muddle along, secretly loving one another, caught in a web of honor before justice, and suffering for entering a marriage with the wrong man because of misplaced loyalties. It's a tough novel to read in some ways, but it is bracing in its honesty and the kind of novel we all have to read from time to time that presents a far more realistic and balanced view of Victorian society as opposed to those stories who life up the beauty of a decadent lifestyle of the beautiful and wealthy. Thanks to this brave author for using her considerable writing skills to give us a really terrific read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patrícia

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. RATING: 2.5 stars. The exploration of Victorian conventions about madness and about asylums and the treatments for people who were not ill, but simply in grief or inconvenient, was interesting, but since this was a character based book, I didn't see that much development. There was much to be explored, from Eva's grief, stay at the asylum, addiction to drugs and her fight to get rid of it, to Ian's own tortuous thoughts. It was all resolved too quickly, painlessly (mostly through magic!sex) and w RATING: 2.5 stars. The exploration of Victorian conventions about madness and about asylums and the treatments for people who were not ill, but simply in grief or inconvenient, was interesting, but since this was a character based book, I didn't see that much development. There was much to be explored, from Eva's grief, stay at the asylum, addiction to drugs and her fight to get rid of it, to Ian's own tortuous thoughts. It was all resolved too quickly, painlessly (mostly through magic!sex) and while the characters were all "woe" and dark and tortured, it was only so because the author constantly reminded us of the fact; and because everyone was always having tortured thoughts. I didn't feel the grittiness, the darkness, the true pain of people who had suffered a lot. The villains motivations were not really explained (well, Lord Thomas's were, but he was a cardboard villain), which was a pity because I thought Mrs. Palmer seemed quite interesting (in a villainous way). The romance felt contrived and I must say I didn't care for the protagonists. Too Mary Sue and Gary Stu for my taste. Good first effort and points for competent writing and an interesting concept, but it needed a lot more development. Still, the other two books seem interesting and I did like Mary in this book.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    Lord Ian Blake has returned from India with troubling demons and many regrets, feeling that he’s responsible for his best friend’s death. Now that’s he’s back in England, he needs to make sure his friend Hamilton’s wife, Lady Eva Carin is safe and cared for. When he discovers that she has been locked in an asylum after an accident that resulted in the death of her young son, he embarks on a mission to save her. This story is aptly named, for it is a dark and twisted tale of the nastier side of V Lord Ian Blake has returned from India with troubling demons and many regrets, feeling that he’s responsible for his best friend’s death. Now that’s he’s back in England, he needs to make sure his friend Hamilton’s wife, Lady Eva Carin is safe and cared for. When he discovers that she has been locked in an asylum after an accident that resulted in the death of her young son, he embarks on a mission to save her. This story is aptly named, for it is a dark and twisted tale of the nastier side of Victorian society, where a woman could be locked up on the word of her guardian, never to be seen again. I enjoyed the main characters, with Eva struggling to overcome not only heartache and adversity, but addiction as well. Ian has struggles of his own with his guilt for not keeping his pledge to bring Hamilton home alive. The secondary characters of Ian’s Aunt Elizabeth, his friend Lord Wyndham, and Eva’s asylum roommate Mary were great additions to the story and the villain of the piece was suitably evil and deserving of his fate. I love discovering new authors and I’ll be watching for the next fantastic story from Maire Claremont after reading this wonderfully dark and intense debut. (I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cherie

    I don't usually read "dark" romance. I read for entertainment and like to learn something at the same time. Therefore, since I never considered stopping reading this book I guess it's not as dark as others I've started and stopped reading. Someone else referred to this as a debut and if so it is very, very good for a debut. There was a tightness in my chest several times when Eva was in danger and Ian's devotion to Eva was palpable. I will read Mary's story when it comes out because she was an un I don't usually read "dark" romance. I read for entertainment and like to learn something at the same time. Therefore, since I never considered stopping reading this book I guess it's not as dark as others I've started and stopped reading. Someone else referred to this as a debut and if so it is very, very good for a debut. There was a tightness in my chest several times when Eva was in danger and Ian's devotion to Eva was palpable. I will read Mary's story when it comes out because she was an unforgettable early character. In addition, I loved Ian's aunt Elizabeth who injected sunshine just when the book needed it. There is a strong message about forgiveness in this story. Not the forgiveness of those who have trespassed against us, but forgiveness of ourselves for not living up to our own, usually unattainable, expectations. Since there was nothing at the end of the story about what happened to the warden of the asylum I'm thinking she continues to play a part in Mary's story. She vowed to make Eva pay for escaping and since she was not brought to justice in this story I'm thinking she's a player in the next.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    Lord Ian Blake had gone to India to save his best friend, Hamilton, from himself. With Hamilton finally killed because of his cruelty, Ian returns home 2 years later to face his widow, Lady Eva Carin. He is shocked to learn of her infant son Adam's death and her subsequent commitment to an asylum by Hamilton's older brother, Thomas. Having loved Eva from afar for as long as he can remember, he determines to at least see her, and what he finds upon his arrival at the facility shocks him to the co Lord Ian Blake had gone to India to save his best friend, Hamilton, from himself. With Hamilton finally killed because of his cruelty, Ian returns home 2 years later to face his widow, Lady Eva Carin. He is shocked to learn of her infant son Adam's death and her subsequent commitment to an asylum by Hamilton's older brother, Thomas. Having loved Eva from afar for as long as he can remember, he determines to at least see her, and what he finds upon his arrival at the facility shocks him to the core. She has been living a nightmare, and before the night is over he rescues her from her captivity. However, it will take much more to save her from her own guilt and from the laudanum she had been sedated with. Eva isn't the only one who needs saving, as Ian is wracked by his own guilt over Hamilton's death. Is Eva truly mad? Can they save each other before Thomas's henchmen can find them and return her to the asylum? I enjoyed this book and plan to read the rest in the series. I literally didn't want to put it down from the very beginning and cheered for Eva and Ian the entire time. The end was a nice surprise.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Wendy LaCapra

    Dark Lady grabbed me on page one and kept me riveted through the end. The writing is gorgeous, the heroine strong and very sympathetic, and the hero honorable and sigh-worthy through the darkest moments. The story is swims through the hidden side Victorian splendor, where laws could be twisted to satisify the ends of the powerful. As the hero and heroine clash against the forces bent on their destruction (and sometimes against each other), their strength and honor build and the very deep wounds Dark Lady grabbed me on page one and kept me riveted through the end. The writing is gorgeous, the heroine strong and very sympathetic, and the hero honorable and sigh-worthy through the darkest moments. The story is swims through the hidden side Victorian splendor, where laws could be twisted to satisify the ends of the powerful. As the hero and heroine clash against the forces bent on their destruction (and sometimes against each other), their strength and honor build and the very deep wounds of their past heal. Those clashes, whether or not they are in alleyways, carriages, madhouses or drawing rooms, are always vivid and soulfully depicted. Ian and Eve form a love that conquers her consuming grief, his pervasive guilt and the greed and evil intent of the villain(s!). Highly, highly recommended!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ariana

    3.5 I'm not sure exactly what to say about this book. I've wanted to read it for a long time and now that I have I'm not sure what to think. It was very well written. I loved the story. But I had a hard time with the hero and heroine, although I did feel the strong connection they had for each other. Ian was such a martyr throughout the whole book. Even the things that I liked about him were just overshadowed by his constant pity party. Yes he had his reasons, but after a while it become enough. 3.5 I'm not sure exactly what to say about this book. I've wanted to read it for a long time and now that I have I'm not sure what to think. It was very well written. I loved the story. But I had a hard time with the hero and heroine, although I did feel the strong connection they had for each other. Ian was such a martyr throughout the whole book. Even the things that I liked about him were just overshadowed by his constant pity party. Yes he had his reasons, but after a while it become enough. Eva, I like a bit more. She went through so much, I mean so much, but she was still willing to begin again. She was an extremely strong character and I liked how she wasn't going to let anyone drag her back down after her hard fought battles. This was my first book by this author and I'm definitely going to check out the rest of this series.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    DNF-- I stopped somewhere in Ch. 7. My own fault, really, because I was pretty sure I knew what I was getting into, but the language was just too melodramatically gothic for my taste (YMMV). I liked the idea of the plot, and the descriptions are first-rate, but the language just made me roll my eyes. Also, a seemingly minor quibble-- unless by some miracle both the Carin and Blake families have family names that match their titles, the author completely ignores proper form of address from the ge DNF-- I stopped somewhere in Ch. 7. My own fault, really, because I was pretty sure I knew what I was getting into, but the language was just too melodramatically gothic for my taste (YMMV). I liked the idea of the plot, and the descriptions are first-rate, but the language just made me roll my eyes. Also, a seemingly minor quibble-- unless by some miracle both the Carin and Blake families have family names that match their titles, the author completely ignores proper form of address from the get-go (e.g., Ian Blake, Marquess of X, gets referred to as "Lord Blake" and not "Lord X" as he should be). As I said, it's a little thing, but it's pretty basic, which doesn't bode well for the author's overall attention to historical detail.

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