The more I read from Delilah Marvelle, the more I like her. This third installment in The Rumor series was a hit for me. Mostly because of its brawny, wounded hero, Nathaniel. A British viscount, he was kidnapped at age 10, by a man who was wronged by Nathaniel's father. Unfortunately, dear old dad would not bend to the kidnapper's demands, which left Nathaniel locked in a cellar for five years before being dispatched to the mean streets of New York.
Nathaniel created a new identity and a life for himself as a bare-knuckled boxer in Five Points. But when his late sister's husband seeks him out to mend the rift with his family, it sets a chain of events in motion that brings him back across the pond.
In the meantime, Imogene dreams of setting her brother free. He's been shackled in a loveless marriage as he sinks all his money into doctors to help with her poor health. Together, they come up with a plan to invest in a boxer to win the big championship fight. Enter Nathaniel.
The first time Gene lays eyes on Nathaniel, she is drawn in. He is so masculine and powerful. And he feels the same attraction. She decides she will make marriage to her, part of the investment into his training --and from there, their relationship is born.
Nathaniel is a tough nut to crack. His time in captivity did a number on him, but so did his father's betrayal, and his life on the streets. It's hard for him to let Gene in, no matter how taken he is with her. His issues run so deep that he can't even have sex without binding his partner. (This was the only part of the book I didn't love. --I would imagine being tied up while you lose your virginity isn't the best experience.) But he tries to protect her the best way he can. He honors her. He loves her. And eventually --he grows to trust her. Which is when I really fell for him.
Gene is fragile in some ways, but she is strong in the ways that really count. And she is exactly what Nathaniel needs. I really enjoyed their love story. Well done.
Rating: B+*ARC Provided by Harlequin via NetGalley