|Melody Thomas once again writes an enjoyable tale with lots of passion and two characters who work against each other even as they fall in love. It is almost her trademark for the hero to be pushed into a title they weren’t expecting and the heroine to be not quite up to expectations.
In Passion and Pleasure, the hero is Rory Jameson, the grandson of the Marquess of Granbury, a man who disowned Rory’s father because he married a Gypsy. Rory has never met the current Lord and is only coming now to the Granbury Court estate because of curiosity. He has been summoned because his grandfather is supposedly dying. Rory’s plan is to swoop in, tell the old man off and leave again. Rory’s past is complicated. His life growing up with a mother and father who loved him disintegrated one night when his father died. He ended up fighting his way through life, almost getting kicked out of everything he joined (school and the army) until he was asked to work for the foreign office. Since then, he has been a spy and has shut himself off from everyone but his sister.
Winter Ashburn’s life has been eerily similar to Rory’s, and yet so so different. Winter was born the daughter of an aristocrat who also died. But when he died, her home was taken by the man who had married her father’s sister. At first, all was well. But her Mam started showing signs of a stroke, some days being lucid and other days, not sure where she was. Her younger brother became a ward of Baron Richly, even though the Baron showed no real interest in his life. Richly also started his campaign to increase his land holdings. When the Marquess needed money, Richly “leased” thousands of acres, actually holding a mortgage on many of the unentailed lands surrounding Granbury Court. And he raped Winter when she was but sixteen.
Now, at age 25, Winter is one of the leaders of a group of citizens who rob the rich and help the poor. She lives in the dower cottage on her old estate, Everleigh, trying to stay out of the Baron’s way and yet each robbery is a way of getting back at him. Her family consists of her mother and brother, along with a young boy whom they had “adopted,” saving him from certain death on his own. This boy, Robert, and her brother, Perry, are both young and they fill the need the other has for a friend.
This rather complicated story starts on the night of a full moon when Winter visits the local tavern to pass on some information and she meets Rory. They share a kiss and Winter rushes off, only to find that Rory not only followed her but got ambushed. She secrets him away and hides him to help him recover, which is when she discovers his identity. Then she discovers that one of the local boys was killed in the ambush and the sheriff is searching for Rory as the culprit.
This is a story of Rory coming to terms with who he really is and the responsibilities that come with a title. This is a story of Winter as she wrestles with her growing love for Rory and her loyalty to the people whom she has considered her family for years. It is a story with passion and with intrigue. Who was trying to kill Rory that night and why?
Thomas has always written tales that bring the reader in and keep them guessing – this story followed that pattern. But unlike others I have read, this story dragged a bit when there was nothing to discover. Rory and Winter are well matched and yet, they were so at odds except in bed, it was hard to believe that their love was really blossoming. Winter’s thinking was well explained, but the author did not share a lot of Rory’s inner workings until closer to the end. This made it difficult to fully understand his reluctance to accept his new life.
Passion and Pleasure in London never fully got me in its grip like other Thomas stories. Having said that, this is a fun book to read and throughout most of it, there is passion, intrigue and a story worth reading.