The Beloved One
by Danelle HarmonBook #2 in the de Montforte Brothers series
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Wounded in battle, Englishman Charles de Montforte has awakened to find himself in the tender care of a sensuous, sloe-eyed local miss, whose beauty would be a joy he would treasure always... if only their paths had crossed in some other place and time. Charles' heart is profoundly moved by Amy Leighton's desperate plight, and her curvaceous dark loveliness and gentle, healing touch are enflaming his desires. But the noble British lord is already taken, though Amy soon lures him away from past loyalties to Crown and fiancée with a golden, rapturous promise of love happily forever after.
Amy has long prayed for someone special to enter her life -- someone who would take her far away from the daily drudgery imposed upon her by a cruel, unloving step-family. Now fate has brought her the strong yet gentle man of her dreams; but the handsome stranger is from an enemy land... and he's sworn to love another.
In The Wild One, Lord Charles de Monteforte's death on the battlefields in America set off a chain of events that ended with his pregnant fiancée coming to England and marrying his younger brother, Gareth. They are now deeply in love and expecting another child and Gareth has accepted Charlotte, Charles' biological daughter, as his own. Now we know Charles is very much alive and has been living in America.
This story begins with the center of the controversy, showing what really happened to Charles and how it came to be that he was assumed killed in action. He ends up in a town not far from Boston being cared for by the Leighton family, or more specifically, Amy Leighton, the ostracized one in the household. She nurses Charles back to health physically and spiritually as he tries to cope with the long-term results of his accident and his diminished opinion of himself.
Charles' story is a darker tale, which is understandable given his propensity for being the perfect one who always does the right thing. He has no experience or preparation for falling short of his own ideals and expectations. Amy tries to help him maintain confidence in himself but worsens the situation because he also struggles to make sense of his attraction to her while being engaged to Juliet. It was fascinating to see the stark contrast between the once confident almost arrogant Charles with the broken, unsettled man trying to rise above his self doubt and depression. His lifeline is Amy, who in spite of her miserable circumstances still maintains a level of optimism for her prospects in life and sees in him what he cannot see for himself.
I really liked that this wasn't a frothy story. Charles' emotional state was so very realistic and even though his self-pity became tiresome and frustrating it was completely believable. His journey back, both literally and figuratively, was insightful. The emotional turmoil he experienced upon his return to England was jarring, especially his reaction to Charlotte. It's a brave approach that puts the "hero" of the story at risk but it gives the story more depth and credibility...this is what happens in real life. However, we get a wonderful payoff by the end.
It was really great to see the characters from the first book appear in this one and not gratuitously. They play a significant role in Charles' transformation. And, there are some really steamy moments here...Chapter 22 is incredible!
I read this book in a day. It's not a page turner; I just got so immersed in the story emotionally I lost track of time. With this being so different from the first book, I have no idea what to expect with the next and that's got me intrigued. I’m loving the unpredictability of this series. It's so well written and the characters couldn't be more appealing.