Ever since the murder of his parents, Dante has been working to become strong enough --and lethal enough-- to get the vengeance he has always dreamed of. Now he is darker and deadlier than anyone else in the English kingdom. He has become an assassin for the king and has earned enough favor to get him back to his homeland of Italy to reclaim his birthright.
He only has one last mission before he can go home. Dante must extricate a woman from a marriage disadvantageous to the crown. To do so, he must pose as one of her father's knights who has come to collect her for her betrothed.
Avalene is miserable in the home where she has fostered for the past several years. When Dante arrives, he is like an answer to a prayer. She is more than happy to get away from her aunt and uncle --and she can't help but be taken by Dante's nobility and favor. She never dreams that a man so fine could possibly want her. But he does.
The story follows Dante and Avalene as they escape from her home and from those who would drag her back to a life without choices. And, of course, we watch them fall in love along the way. It took me a little while to get into the story, but it really picked up for me once Dante and Avalene make their escape together.
Dante is an interesting character. He is man plagued by darkness, but he finds relief in Avalene's light. It's very sweet to see how hard he falls for her. The attraction between these two is instant and I felt like their bond happened kind of fast. I'm a little skeptical of Avalene's near sixth sense for sussing out Dante's moods and dishonesty. But I did enjoy watching him rebuild her delicate self-esteem. I liked how quickly he came to respect her and how willing he was to throw away his ideas of making her anything less than his wife.
The betrothals and kidnappings were all about politics, but the story was never weighed down by too much by it. Unlike some period stories, it was easy to keep all the players straight and understand their motivations. I enjoyed the sexual tension and Avalene's sexual awakening over the course of their romance. There's not a ton of sex, but there were enough love scenes to satisfy me.
It was an interesting change of pace from the Regency era historicals I usually read.
Rating: B-*ARC Provided by NetGalley