I have to say that I have liked all three installments of the Lost Lords of Pembrook. And while this book wasn't my favorite of the three, I still enjoyed it. As with the books featuring his brothers, Rafe's story delivers on the recurring elements of a tortured hero and a love that helps him find peace and redemption.
Rafe is the youngest Easton brother, the one who was left behind in a workhouse after his uncle killed his father. His life there --and later, on the streets-- has turned him into a very hard man. He never got over his brothers' desertion and as a result, he has never allowed himself to care for anyone since. Add to that a severe aversion to being touched and he's not exactly a knight in shining armor.
He meets Evelyn when her jerkwad of a half-brother tried to auction her off to be a mistress for a nobleman. Rafe's not in the market for a mistress, but he is drawn to Eve and he can't bear the thought of her belonging to someone else. So he takes her for his own.
When Eve's brother set up the party that night, she thought he was trying to find her a husband. It wasn't until she was delivered to Rafe's door that she found out what was intended for her. And then she had a choice to make: give up her virtue or be turned out on the streets.
Before you get too mad at Rafe, know he never forces himself on her. He's not a fraction of the monster he thinks he is. Generally, I am all over the tortured hero with an underdeveloped sense of self-worth. And it wasn't that I disliked him, it's just there were times he was little too emo. On top of that, I wasn't really satisfied with explanation on the touching thing. I don't want to give it away, but his reaction seemed like it was perhaps an issue of a sexual nature. For what it turned out to be, claustrophobia would have been a more reasonable reaction than an aversion to hugs, sheets, or clothing.
All that being said, I did enjoy watching his losing battle with himself as he fought not to fall in love with Eve. How he lies to himself about his feelings from the very beginning. It's easy to see why he connects with Eve. He empathizes with her plight; he knows what it's like to be left with only horrible choices to survive. Yet she doesn't break. In fact, she becomes someone he can lean on. (The sexy times are really good too.)
We're treated to time spent with the couples from the previous books, which I liked. But this can easily work as a standalone.
Rating: B*ARC Provided by Avon