The Edge of Desire

Stephanie Laurens
September 2008, European Historical Romance (Regency England)
Avon, $7.99, 464 pages, Amazon ASIN 0061246360
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Hot

Say what you will about Stephanie Laurens, but you always know what to expect when you pick up one of her books. And while I have been known to bemoan the sameness of her "formula," I cannot deny that sometimes I am just in the mood for a Stephanie Laurens. Sometimes I want to read about an alpha male who is relentless in his pursuit of his mate and made to jump through hoops in order to get her to commit - even though she is in thrall to his sexual expertise. So, I knew what I was going to get when I picked up The Edge of Desire, was in the mood for it, and so was not disappointed.

Christian Allardyce, Marquess of Dearne, is the last unmarried member of the Bastian Club, but he quickly realizes that his days are numbered when he receives a note from his lost love, Lady Letitia, asking for his help. Letitia's husband Randall has just been found in their home, murdered, and all evidence points toward her brother - who cannot be found - as the culprit. Christian cannot deny his aid, and soon they are caught up in unraveling the truth, about Randall, about Letitia's marriage, and about the never forgotten feelings each has for the other.

Christian and Letitia were young lovers 12 years ago and planned to marry when he returned from the war. However, Letitia didn't wait for Christian and instead married Randall in what everyone assumed was a whirlwind love match. Christian was heartbroken and continues to harbor some thoughts of revenge against Letitia. However, it isn't long before he learns the truth of her marriage: Randall blackmailed her into the marriage to save her family from financial ruin. Letitia wrote to and then searched for Christian, expecting him to come and save her, but by then he was doing his super-secret-spy thing and had left her no way in which to contact him.

Guilt, remorse and a renewed determination to make it up to Letitia and win her for his wife, as she should have been all these years, are now Christian's ruling passions and he is dogged in his resolve. For her part, Letitia has suffered the same heartbreak, but augmented with feelings of betrayal and years of a bad marriage. She is not about to topple easily or willingly or trust Christian with her heart again.

We all know the good facets - steamy love scenes, a nice alpha hero, a strong heroine, a good mystery - and the bad (repetitive love scenes, a very selective, almost Swiss-cheese-like respect for historical accuracy, the sometimes inexplicable actions of the heroine) in a Laurens romance and they are all present here. I find that I have to be in the right mood to enjoy it, and I was when I read this one. If that is true for you as well, Edge of Desire is a good, comfort read.

-- Cheryl Sneed

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