Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Lady of Notoriety - Diane Gaston (HH #1192 - July 2014)

Series: Masquerade Club (Book 3)


When fallen beauty Daphne, Lady Faville, is carried to safety from a rampaging fire, she's horrified to recognize her rescuer as Hugh Westleigh--a man with every reason to despise her!

But Hugh has been blinded and Daphne must nurse him back to health. Unable to see, he is driven to distraction by her tantalizing scent and gentle touch.

For the first time, Daphne feels truly desired for herself alone. But when Hugh finally regains his sight, will she find forgiveness in his arms?

Good book, with a theme of redemption for the heroine. Daphne is the "other woman" from the previous book in the series, A Marriage of Notoriety. At the time she was a beautiful but selfish widow, who was pursuing Xavier simply because he was good looking and she thought they would look good together. After setting the Masquerade Club on fire, she left England and went to Switzerland. There she spent time at an abbey, learning to be a better person. On her return to England she was caught in a fire at an inn and rescued by none other than Hugh Westleigh, brother of the woman she wronged. Hugh is injured in the fire, concussed and blinded, and Daphne feels responsible for nursing him back to health.

Because she knows he would hate her if he knew who she was, Daphne gives him a false name. At first she tries to keep her distance from him, but she's really the only one who can spend time with him while he is recovering. The more time they spend together, the more she likes him and finds things that they have in common. There is also a strong attraction between them that Daphne tries to resist because of the guilty feelings over the harm she caused his family. But there is also the happiness that she feels over being desired for something other than her beauty, which goes a long way toward healing her spirit. She knows that she's living on borrowed time with him, because as soon as he knows who she is it will be over.

I liked Hugh. He is the second son in the Westleigh family and the one who has been stuck as the family "gofer". He really wants a chance to travel and do things he's not done before. Now that his father is dead and the Masquerade Club is helping to repair the family fortunes, he finally feels free to live his own life. Then he gets caught in the inn fire.  Hugh's injuries are severe and have him very worried that he will never regain his sight. The only thing keeping him sane is the presence of Daphne, who keeps him distracted from his worries. He senses that she is hiding something from him, but hasn't been able to get her to reveal it. In spite of his fears of the future, his feelings for Daphne keep growing. He's looking forward to finding out if his sight will return so that he can see her and maybe pursue a future with her.

Daphne flees before Hugh finds out about his sight because she can't stand the thought of facing his hatred. Hugh returns to London and gets stuck once again doing his family's bidding, this time running the club. When they encounter each other, Hugh is indeed very angry over her deception, but discovers that his feelings for her haven't changed. Daphne is still trying to live her new life, but it seems that no matter what she does, people still believe the worst of her. I loved seeing the way that, even through his anger, Hugh still sees the good in Daphne and defends her to his own family, who are not in a forgiving mood. I enjoyed the ending and thought that it was realistically done.

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