Forever My Love by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Berkeley-Falkner #2
Publication Date: 1988
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Her lips softened and clung to his, seeking the warmth and taste of him. His tongue feathered against hers, and she shivered with a craving more powerful, more urgent, than hunger or thirst. . . .
Exquisitely beautiful Mira Germain was only eighteen when she made her bargain with the wealthy, powerful, elderly Lord Sackville. He would keep and protect her, and she would let him flaunt her as mistress to hide his shameful personal secret. Mira tried to keep her word, even when she met the handsome Alec Falkner, the Duke of Hamilton, as experienced in passion as Mira was innocent. But in his arms, desire was more powerful than any promise or pledge. . . as she learned to be a woman who would dare everything for love. . .
Lisa Kleypas is one of the first historical authors I ever read and glommed. I thought I had read every book she’d written, including the novellas. As it turns out, I was wrong. Back in the late 80’s (87 and 88, I believe) she released two novels with Onyx, before she signed w/ Avon. Forever My Love is the second one. The first, Where Passion Leads, features two characters who were prominent in this novel, but I’m not sure I want to read it (more on that later). This, however, was an excellent example of why I love Kleypas. (She also released a novel set in Victorian America, but I’m not very interested in it, so I left it off the list)
Alec and Mira first meet at the country estate of Lord Sackville where Alec has come to join an extended hunting party. They chance upon each other in the hallway and he’s immediately taken with her. He determines to find out more about her, but is disillusioned when he realizes she’s Sackville’s mistress. The revelation causes him to despise her and for the next several weeks they play a back and forth game of insults and attraction.
Mira is deeply indebted to Sackville for saving her life, and though she comes to care for Alec, she cannot betray Sackville. Alec urges her to leave with him, but then betrays her to Sackville (he shared something she told him in confidence). Bereft, Mira escapes the manor with an old friend, Rosalie Berkeley.
Mira and Rosalie were friends in France prior to Rosalie’s marriage to Lord Berkeley (Rosalie and Rand have their story in Where Passion Leads, the first novel published w/ Onyx) and she inadvertently betrayed them. Mira believes Rosalie and Rand hate her for her part in Rosalie being kidnapped, but the truth is they’ve been searching for her for years. Rosalie rescues Mira and takes her home where she (Rosalie) devises a plan to bring Mira out in society.
In the meantime, despite the deep connection they developed at Sackville’s, Mira and Alec are separated with no thought of being together again. As the winter progresses, however, Mira is reintroduced to society and keeps running in to Alec. It isn’t long before they recognize that the attraction between them is stronger than they first realized. They agree to marry. But despite her love for Alec, and his for her, Mira has secrets lurking in her past that she’s unwilling to share with him. When those secrets are revealed, will they destroy the bond between them?
Alec, he is an ass. Plain and simple. No two ways about it. He’s surly and cynical and acts abominably for the first half of the book. I heart him. At first I didn’t. I was frustrated by the way he treated Mira and his overall cynical attitude. Once he commited himself to her, however, he was in 100%. He loved her unconditionally, supporting her no matter what. It was kind of refreshing, actually, to see a reformed rake stay reformed for longer than a chapter or two.
Alec is suffering from the loss of his cousin, Holt, with whom he was extremely close. He and Holt’s little brother, Carr, team up to search for Holt’s murderer (he was found by Alec beaten to death in a back alley) and his commitment to that was also commendable. Watching him form attachments to Mira and Carr, and opening himself up, was wonderful.
That’s not to say I didn’t have issues with him, however. He was an ass and that really didn’t work for me in the beginning. He was also wallowing in self-pity for a good 1/4 of the book and that just made me want to beat him.
Mira was a complex character that I really enjoyed. She wasn’t a typical historical heroine. Having grown up rough on the streets, she had common sense and street smarts. I loved her verbal banter with Alec and the way she stood up for herself. In the beginning she’s young and somewhat immature, but as the novel progresses we see her grow and mature. Though she was willing to settle for being Alec’s mistress in the beginning, she eventually realizes she’s worth more than that, and refuses him.
Her inability to trust Alec did bother me, however. Especially since it went on so long. She kept insisting that he wouldn’t want her any longer, once he found out about her past. No matter that he continued to reassure her that he would love her no matter what, she insisted. That got real old real fast. Also, her first instinct when she was upset or afraid was to run. Although I understood this in the beginning, it ended up irritating me the longer it went on.
One other issue I had was Rosalie, Lady Berkeley. She was the exact kind of historical heroine I dislike: Naive and headstrong. She kept putting herself and Mira in compromising positions, because she didn’t consider the consequences of her actions. I found it especially frustrating that she kept secrets from her husband, and made up elaborate plots to do what she wanted without telling him. The clincher for me, however, was when she raced off to the docks, dragging Mira along for the ride, insisting all the while that they were “perfectly safe” and “no harm would come to them”. headesk I seriously doubt I’m going to read Where Passion Leads. If the heroine is like this in her book, I’d be tempted to throw it across the room.
I really did love that the h/h married for love, and that the hero was fully committed once he decided she was his.
Overall this was a stellar novel, especially considering when it was released. The heroine was extremely unconventional in her attitudes and the hero was truly a reformed rake. Despite my issues, I adored it. Highly recommend if you can find a copy.
4 out of 5
This book is OOP from Onyx. You can buy it used here.