On a moonless night, he rides into the winter forest on his beast as black as midnight….
Dashing stranger, Henry Dunham, comes to Salem on a mysterious errand, but is thrown from his horse in the dead of night and rescued by the local Puritan midwife, Lydia Colson.
Haunted by her past, Lydia is running from her own dark secrets, avoiding intrusive questions by pretending her dead husband is simply…away. But when she and Henry are caught in a compromising situation, one punishable by Puritan law, he saves her from scandal by claiming to be her errant spouse…and claiming her bed.
Forced to fake a marriage, Lydia and Henry find their passion overwhelming and their vows a little too real. As their lies become truths, a witch hunt closes in on Lydia, threatening not only their burgeoning love, but her life.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started this, as I’m not a big fan of historical romance. I’m happy to say, I was pleasantly surprised. It may be about puritans, but there isn’t anything pure about it, if you know what I mean (wink, wink).
Set in Salem during the Puritan days, Henry is a mysterious stranger thrown by his horse on the road and saved by Lydia. Lydia is trying to start a new life in Salem and questions about her absent husband are causing problems, not to mention they are caught in a compromising position, so she and Henry fake a marriage. Things heat up when the
chemistry between them is undeniable and the vows they’re faking take on a new meaning (nudge, nudge). But, the Salem Witch hunt soon turns its sights on Lydia, threatening not only Henry and Lydia’s blooming love, but Lydia’s life as well.
I was captivated by this book. As I said, I’m not much for historical romance, but this was a very exciting read. The backdrop of Salem in the 17th century just adds to the allure of the overall story. And Henry is quite simply dashing…yeah, that’s right. He had ripped abs before ripped abs were cool. Plus, he’s the classic “I will fight you to
the death for the love of my woman” kind of hero. Like I said: dashing.
What I liked most about this book was the way the town and people were described. They really jumped from the page and made it easy for me to become invested in what was happening. This is a fairly short read, but full of action, love and of course, sex. And the sex scenes I found to strike the right balance of romance and just plain old fashioned boning…and not the kind found in a corset, but corsets were involved. I’m a fan, Sarah Ballance. I’m a fan.
Lydia was such an interesting and multi-faceted character as well. She was a trained midwife trying to escape an abusive past and a dead husband. She is a very strong and independent woman, and I like to think that even though in this time period women were second-class citizens to men, there were really women like Lydia around. She rocks.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I hope that there are more in this series; I will snatch those up right away!
“Willard, you beast.” A round of profanity followed the utterance. Though the stranger’s words were foul, they offered for his equine companion both comfort and reassurance. Their soothing cadence eased the alarm from the horse’s eyes, leading his ears to relax from their pinned state.
Lydia found herself enchanted by the man’s tones and by his obvious affection for the horse.
He shifted in the leaves, still facing away, and he had yet to acknowledge her. She should flee. She had freed him from his quandary, and his voice tinged itself not with pain, but with humor. She would feel no remorse for moving past, yet her feet did not budge.
If she remained silent, would he not know her there? No, eventually he would wonder what held the reins aloft. She watched, waiting for that moment. Through the profound darkness, she noticed his hair was a nutty brown and longer than that of a Puritan man, though its richness showed no trace of the powder worn by many wealthy travelers. He was a study of contrasts, this man. For all of his finery, he seemed to shun the ways of society, and
his roguish nature appealed to those innermost desires she had thought long lost. Her husband, as he were, had ruined her womanhood.
This stranger, in the most insignificant ways, had roused it.
Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom, she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids). Though she adores romantic suspense, she writes in many genres. Her ever-growing roster of releases may be found at http://sarahballance.com
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