A deliciously provocative and steamy period romance by an author who can pen good chemistry with her eyes closed. This is a book about meant-to-be’s, about people who mark each other’s souls irrevocably and eventually find a way to be together, regardless of how much time has passed.
Alistair and Jessica have led separate lives for almost a decade after the illicit connection they made in those woods when Jessica accidentally witnessed Alistair’s indiscretion, but they never forgot each other. When they meet again, Jessica is a widow and Alistair has become a successful businessman who never married. Their attachment is immediate and this time around nothing stands in their way. They succumb to their attraction without reservations and without guilt. From pure carnal lust, their desire for each other quickly grows into affection and ultimately love. They connect on every level, completely baring their souls to one another, confessing all the mistakes they have made and all the wrongs they have endured in order to achieve complete acceptance and move forward without the hindrance of secrets and lies. Before too long, they cannot bear to be apart.
“You and I have always been inevitable. And I am not a man to take pieces of a whole. I must have everything. The good as well as the bad.”
What I found most appealing in the connection between these two characters was the honesty with which they built their relationship. There were no innuendos, no misunderstandings or games, they knew what they wanted and they invested all of themselves to achieve it. They so openly talked about their feelings, expectations, hopes for the future, and this made them invincible, even against a Society that potentially would have frowned upon their relationship. What can I say, Sylvia Day might be the only person on the planet capable of making me believe in soul mates.
There is also a secondary love story in this book, between Jessica’s sister Hester and her brother-in-law Michael. This is a story of unrequited love, of two individuals clearly made for each other but whose lives follow separate paths as those feelings are never professed. Their journey in this book is a lot more troublesome and painful to read, bringing ugly themes of marital abuse and depression into the equation, but it served as a great backdrop and contrast to the relatively smooth story between Jessica and Alistair.
I decided to read this book for two reasons – firstly, Sylvia Day wrote it and that on its own is reason enough, and secondly, it was promoted as the book that inspired Bared to You. For what I can see, the only similarity between these two books is the intensity of the connection between the main characters and possibly the theme of past traumas marking our futures, one way or another. That is where the similarities end for me. I believe that they are outstanding books in their own right and any further comparison would only serve to diminish that.
The only reason I did not give 5 stars to this beautiful book is because of the historical element of it. While I truly enjoy period romances and have been known to linger in that genre until my fingers get all pruny, there was something in this book that felt a bit forced to me. The story needed it to be a period piece but the language and overall character development did not sit well with me. Overall, however, all this had hardly any impact on my genuine enjoyment of this delectably sinful book.
“If I could, I would remain like this indefinitely—clasped by you, held inside you, a part of you—without moving at all."