I gave this a 4.5 star review on my website.
There are just some authors that can tug at the old heartstrings and Lorraine Heath is one of the best. In Passions of a Wicked Earl she delivers a novel with one of the most tortured and complex characters, Morgan Lyons, I've read in a historical romance book in a while.
Morgan is known throughout London for his prowess in the bedroom. At first this was a turn off for me. Although I do admire a rake, I really don't admire "married" rakes. However, we begin to understand through the book, why Morgan is that way, and what has driven him to this situation. On his wedding night, he discovered his new bride in a compromising position with his brother, banished her to their country estate and hightailed it off to London for some serious debauchery and bed hopping. The story line picks up three years after that wedding night with Morgan questioning his life.
Claire Lyons has come to London to plead for her husband's help in getting her younger sister married to a suitable young man and not the elderly gentleman their abusive father has selected. She has one season to succeed in her endeavor; otherwise her sister's future will not be one of her choosing. Over the three years, since Morgan banished her, she has had no contact with her husband, and has blossomed into a mature and beautiful woman, capable in everything she does, perhaps except seducing and keeping her husband.
The plot is typical of historical romances but the twists and turns of Claire and Morgan's relationship keeps the pace from feeling slow. What struck me about this story is the way that Ms. Heath deals with their reunion, and how they interact with each other. They just don't "see" each other and fall back into each other's arms. I loved how Morgan's character is slowly peeled back and his true heart revealed. The ending did seem a bit rushed and tidy but since Book 2, Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman will continue the series, I'm guessing some things needed to be wrapped up for that release. Also, for fans of The Scoundrels of St. James, look carefully and you may see some characters you know. It is interesting how they make an appearance and how they are perceived by Morgan and Claire.
Overall a great read and I would recommend this book for all historical romance junkies that just love a great love story!