Ada, an Englishwoman who has found herself in medieval Spain after fleeing her homeland, is addicted to opium and will do almost anything to get it. She ends up at a slavery auction, blissfully addicted and completely unaware of her circumstances. Luckily for her, she’s spotted by two men: Gavriel, a former warrior and now dedicated novice, and her friend Jacob. Between them, they rescue her and take her away, but she faces a hard battle fighting her opium addiction. Can Gavriel’s dedication to her cure her of her addiction – and help him face down the trouble from his past?
I loved how this romance was different and yet still had all the essential ingredients for a wonderful romantic read. First off, the book is set in medieval Spain. There’s currently a total glut of historical romance (and regular fiction for that matter) set in England, which is all well and good, but sometimes I’m looking for something different. This fit that bill, and the author even includes a helpful note about what’s accurate and what’s different about her history at the end. I love when authors do this, it shows such dedication to their research that I really respect and admire. Her website lists the books she used to research in case readers are interested.
Secondly, I loved the characters. Gavriel himself feels familiar, as there are plenty of emotionally scarred warriors hanging around in the romance genre (I think immediately of Kev/Merripen in Seduce Me at Sunrise), but his character is done well and his journey to redemption is admirable and engaging.
It’s Ada that is different. She has severe issues with her life; opium addiction just one of the ways in which she is unusual. She’s treated her sister horribly, she’s seduced a man for her own purposes, and she’s not even willing to be rescued from the drug she’s addicted to. I started the book really wondering how the author was going to pull this off. Characters are absolutely essential to a successful romance, because really the entire book is centralized on the relationship between two people, and Ada was not a character that I liked at first. Somehow, though, I found myself really caring about Ada by the end. She recovers herself and realizes that many of her actions have been wrong, and that she can do better. Gavriel helps her on that path, but it’s really her that becomes strong and dedicated, and he’s not a necessity for it to happen.
Finally, I really loved the adventurous take that Lofty took with this one. Everyone fights and travels, so there is plenty of action mixed in with the more thoughtful and romantic scenes. It really helps to move the book along and provide a dimension which isn’t totally focused on the central romance. I always appreciate that.
Scoundrel’s Kiss has made me especially eager to read the author’s first book, What A Scoundrel Wants, which uses the Robin Hood legends and introduces Ada and her sister. This was a great read and I definitely recommend it.
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