Tag: Maire Claremont

Guest Review: The Dark Affair by Maire Claremont

Posted November 6, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Dark Affair by Maire ClaremontReviewer: Tracy
The Dark Affair by Maire Claremont
Series: Mad Passions #3
Published by Signet
Publication Date: February 2nd 2013
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Lady Margaret Cassidy left a life of nobility behind in Ireland, forsaking her grieving homeland to aid war-ravaged men in England. Still, she never expected a cruel turn of fate to lock her into an unwanted betrothal with one of her English patients—much less one as broken and dangerous as Viscount Powers.

Wrecked by his tragic past, Powers’ opiate-addled sanity hangs precariously in the balance, leaving him poised to destroy anyone who dares to utter the names of the wife and child he still so deeply mourns. So when he is forced to marry Margaret in exchange for freedom, he is shocked by the desire to earn her trust, her body, and—most alarming of all—her heart….


Tracy’s review of The Dark Affair (Mad Passions #3) by Maire Claremont

Margaret is a woman who has spent most of her adult life helping people rehab from drug addiction. She’s now been hired by an earl to help his son get off of the opiates he’s addicted to. When the earl makes a deal with Margaret to marry his son so that he can take him out of the asylum but still have him under her care, she agrees but only because she wants to help her brother who is a wanted man.

Margaret helps people detox and then deal with the underlying reasons that they were taking the drugs in the first place. With James it’s because he is grieving over the deaths of his wife and two year old daughter. It’s been years but he still blames himself as well as his father. Margaret must make him see that he can deal with the pain without the drugs. Margaret herself has never dealt with the pain of her childhood living in a famine stricken Ireland and she soon realizes that she can’t really heal James until she heals herself as well.

This was a very dark and different kind of romance. It was highly emotional and dealt with subjects such as the Potato Famine in Ireland as well as the poverty ridden streets of the East End of London. Nothing was taboo and it was stark and kind of in the readers face. The drug addiction issue was also highly volatile and made for a strange romance. I wasn’t all that happy that it seemed that James amazingly detoxed faster than anyone Margaret had worked with. I realize the book was only so long but it didn’t seem to mesh with the reality that the story was attempting to relay.

The romance in the book was touching but seemed sudden and I couldn’t quite feel the emotion between the two MC’s. I felt the lust – there was no lack of that – but I’m not sure I fully believed the pair was falling in love. I almost felt that James had fallen in love with his savior and that felt a little wrong to me.

Despite that I liked the writing in the book and enjoyed reading the entirety of the story.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

This title is available from Signet. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Guest Review: Lady in Red by Maire Claremont

Posted January 7, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Lady in Red
Jennifer’s review of for Lady in Red (Mad Passions #2) by Maire Claremont

The Victorian era was full of majestic beauty and scandalous secrets—a time when corsets were the least of a woman’s restrictions, and men could kill or be killed in the name of honor…

Lady Mary Darrel should be the envy of London. Instead, all society believes her dead. For Mary holds a secret so dangerous, her father chose to keep her locked away…and have a grave made for her near her mother’s. Driven to the edge of desperation, Mary manages to escape the asylum, only to find that her fate yet again rests in the hands of a man…

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, longs for some way to escape the torment of his father’s crimes. In Mary’s warrior spirit and haunted gaze—which so mirrors his own—he finally sees his path to redemption. He will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even as she seeks revenge. But will the passion they discover in each other be enough to save them from their demons?

In theory, this is not a book I should like. The heroine is (at the start) a drug addicted mess of an abused woman. The hero is supposedly a proud, depraved man yet all his actions are absurdly humble and good. The prose is at times melodramatic, and the story is full of abuse and exploitation of women. There’s even a bit of a love triangle. All of these are things I normally hate in books…and yet I could not put this book down! It is bordering on batshit crazy, but by the end I was enthralled.

The book is the second in a series, though truthfully I didn’t even realize that until after I read it–the story stands alone just fine. Mary Darrel is the daughter of a duke, but her father imprisoned her in an asylum and left her to die. She has spent the last several years being abused, but she finally escapes and turns to Yvonne, a madam who was friends with her dead mother. Though Mary refuses to divulge the entire story, Yvonne understands enough to know she can’t protect Mary from her powerful father, so she proposes that Mary agree to be the mistress of Edward Barrons, the Duke of Fairleigh. The two had met very briefly when Mary first arrives at Yvonne’s, and apparently Yvonne was confident enough in Edward’s interest to be certain he would want to help protect her. (Keep in mind Mary clearly tells Yvonne she doesn’t know if she can sleep with a man, which would seem to sort of negate the whole “mistress” part of the arrangement, no?) The weak explanation given is that Edward is trying to atone for his past sins and thinks Mary is his path to salvation based on the “look” in her eyes…or something. Just ignore the set up and give yourself in to the crazy! The rest of the book follows Mary’s journey back to herself (via plotting revenge against her father) and Edward’s struggle to put the past behind him.

When I was trying to come up with words to describe this book, “gritty” kept coming to mind. At first, it was kind of off putting, so much that I was tempted to completely stop reading at one point. After their very brief first encounter at Yvonne’s, the next time Mary and Edward meet is when Mary overdoses on a cocktail of laudanum, opium, and wine after just arriving in Edward’s house. Edward and his servant (who most certainly is not being paid enough to catch the vomit of his master’s new junkie mistress) have to tear her back from the brink of death. What a meet-cute! Mary is addicted to laudanum after being force-fed it for years in the asylum, and while the book doesn’t use her addiction a central theme, it does come up a few other times in the story. Mary has obvious PTSD from her trauma, and Edward’s touch sometimes induces VERY dramatic flashbacks. And Mary’s not the only abused woman in this book. In fact, women’s lack of power, and how they might regain some, are explicit themes of the book. Women are raped (not on screen), mentally and physically abused (some on screen, some off), treated like objects, etc. The three main women in the book, Mary, Yvonne, and Mary’s 17-year-old “stepmom,” all are misused by the men in their lives but exact revenge in the end, in brutal fashion.

But the book isn’t all darkness either. First, there is lots of witty banter to lighten the mood. Mary and Edward have some lovely light moments, such as when she is trying to undress him so she can explore a man’s body for the first time without fear. She manages to get his pants down but now has to have him sit so she can take off his boots.

“And he began to waddle. It was the only word for his ridiculous movement. Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, waddled, half naked, to his bed. Only someone of his nature could have still appeared dignified while his bound boots shuffled across the burgundy rug.

Mary clapped a hand over her mouth, suppressing a giggle.”

Edward’s friend Powers also plays a major role in helping Mary learn her own strength, and he and Mary have a love-hate relationship that leads to lots of great dialogue. Second, Mary’s strength and Edward’s gentleness make this a genuine romance instead of just a dark story. Edward is patient and kind, almost to the point of unbelievability, but it is his admiration for Mary that finally gives her the strength to look at herself in a new way. Finally, the plot is at times so crazy that it lightens the tone! Some things are so melodramatic (think soap opera), like Mary’s over-the-top evil father, that it’s easier to swallow the darkness because it’s also just a little ridiculous. Not so crazy it’s rubbish–just enough crazy to make it fun.

This book is not perfect, certainly. There is a little less normal conversation than I would have liked between the hero and heroine, and I wasn’t fully convinced that the sort of power Mary thought she reclaimed was genuine. Also, the timeline of the story seemed too short for either party to really overcome the horrors of the past. I’m very glad I agreed to review this book, though, or I would have stopped reading and never gotten to enjoy such a unique story.

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover

This book is available from Signet. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: Lady in Red by Maire Claremont

Posted October 4, 2013 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Lady Mary Darrel should be the envy of London. Instead, all society believes her dead. For Mary holds a secret so dangerous, her father chose to keep her locked away…and have a grave made for her near her mother’s. Driven to the edge of desperation, Mary manages to escape the asylum, only to find that her fate yet again rests in the hands of a man…

Edward Barrons, Duke of Fairleigh, longs for some way to escape the torment of his father’s crimes. In Mary’s warrior spirit and haunted gaze—which so mirrors his own—he finally sees his path to redemption. He will stop at nothing to keep her safe, even as she seeks revenge. But will the passion they discover in each other be enough to save them from their demons? 

Mary Darrel was just 15 when her father put her into a mad house. There they treated her horribly, beat her, raped her – it was just a horrible place. She managed to escape and headed to the only person she could trust, Yvonne. Yvonne is a madam and was a good friend of Mary’s mother when she was alive. Yvonne takes her in and but they both know that she can’t stay at the brothel as that would be one of the first places that her father looked. She meets the Duke of Fairleigh and as he is so taken with her he agrees to have her as his mistress. He understands though that Mary has been hurt by whatever in her past she’s running from and that he can’t touch her. Little by little he begins to earn her trust and wants to help her in her revenge.

Eventually Mary is strong enough to take her revenge but now Edward doesn’t want her to do it. He fears that it has consumed her and though she thinks it will it will not make her happy. Edward makes Mary happy but he feels that he doesn’t deserve her and plans to let her go.

The relationship between Mary and Edward was a strange one. Yes, I saw the affection growing during the course of the story but I truly only saw the love on Mary’s side of things. Edward was definitely more possessive with Mary which was fine to a point but after a bit he was treating her like an object (at least in my eyes) and that really bothered me. Yes, he finally realized he loved her and we were given to think that that ownership would fly away into the sunset but I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it.

While the romance wasn’t the best, in my opinion, I thought the rest of the story was a good one. I really liked Mary’s strength in all things. When it came to escaping the mad house to crossing the country on foot and then planning her revenge. Though her hatred of her father got in the way I could see the determination underneath it all. Yes, she had some issues with being touched – who wouldn’t have after enduring all Mary had a the asylum – but other than that she was surprisingly normal for bring in a mad house for 3 years. The story flowed well and I was completely into it throughout the book. I like this series so far and hope that the good books keep coming.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Maire Claremont

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What I Read Last Week

Posted September 30, 2013 by Tracy in Features | 3 Comments

Hi-di-ho neighbor!  How the hell are ya? 

The past week zoomed by once again. I’m home today with a serious migraine. (I’ve got my laptop screen brightness so low it’s hard to see the darned thing – but it’s oh so good on the eyes and brain.)

The excitement of my week was getting this:

That’s Catch Me If You Can by LB Gregg…translated into Japanese!  So freakin cool!  It was such an awesome surprise to open my mailbox and find this.  

So on to what I read this past week:

I started off the week with All of You by Christina Lee.  This was a New Adultish book that had a nursing student and an artist in her building starting a friendship and then a relationship.  Avery only does one night stands, however, and Bennett is a virgin and only wants a long term relationship.  It made for a great story and it was pretty emotional for me. 4.25 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)

Next up was Lady Pirate by Lynsay Sands.  Valoree takes over her brothers ship when he is killed and the entire crew believes her to be a man (except 1).  After 5 years on the high seas she needs to claim her home and inheritance but the will stipulates she must be married and either have a child or be with child by the time she’s 25 – which is like 8 months away.  The crew who now knows her to be a woman sets out to get her married off and that’s when the fun begins.  Between face makeup made of cake batter, allergic reactions and fortune hunters it’s not easy trying to be a lady and find a man.  The story was fun, funny and touching. I really liked Sands’ historicals.  4 out of 5

Always on My Mind by Jill Shalvis is the story of Leah and Jack who have been friends for years and after a “fake” relationship fall in love.  The story was great and I loved it just like I have the other books in the Lucky Harbor series.  I’ll post my review later this week. 4 out of 5

Heart’s Truth by Tamsin Baker is an m/m story about a man who is out and proud and the younger man he falls for who hides the fact that he’s gay and that he’s with Marcus from his friends and family.  It’s a sweet sexy story that I really liked.  4 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)

Caught by Menace by Lolita Lopez is a sci-fi story about military men who “grab” their brides.  Menace is on the tail of one woman, Jennie, but Naya and Jennie have plans to get out their planet and not by being grabbed.  Naya saves Jennie but Naya is caught.  Menace and Naya end up starting to like each other but Naya’s past catches up with her and the two may be torn apart forever.  I really liked this book.  Yes, there was a ton and a half of sex but the story was very good and had me turning page after page.  4 out of 5

Last for the week was Lady in Red by Maire Claremont.  The story of Mary who was put into a mad house by her father, escapes and wants revenge on her father.  The man who helps her loves her, though he denies it, and soon realizes that Mary just might ruin herself if she goes after the revenge she seeks. Not a completely fulfilling romance but I like the rest of the book. 3.75 out of 5

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Ablaze by Morgana Black
Unexpected by Maisey Yates

Happy Reading!

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Guest Review: The Dark Lady by Maire Claremont

Posted February 15, 2013 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Tracy’s review of The Dark Lady (Mad Passions #1) by Maire Claremont

Lord Ian Blake has returned from India a broken man. Years ago, he pledged to Lady Eva Carin—his childhood companion and first love—that he would bring her husband back alive. His failure haunts him. But even his jaded soul can’t anticipate the shocking sight of beautiful, independent Eva confined in a madhouse.

Locked in an asylum, forgotten by society, Eva is adrift in both body and mind. For Ian to break her free, they must cross a powerful enemy—and prove her sanity to England’s unforgiving aristocracy. But the biggest danger of all may come when the secrets of Eva’s tragic past are finally unlocked.

Viscount Ian Blake returns to England after three years in India. He is anxious to return to the home he grew up in as he’s not sure what his welcome will be by his childhood friend Eva. When he gets to the house, however, what he finds is quite shocking. He finds Eva gone, her son dead and her dead husbands brother as the Lord of the Manor. Ian finally gets out of Thomas (the current Lord) that Eva was put into an asylum because she went mad after the deaths of her husband and son in such short succession. Ian is determined to get Eva out of the mad house and goes there acting as if he is Thomas.

Ian manages to get Eva out (and almost get her friend Mary as well but that didn’t work out) and he heads off to try and keep Eva away from the asylum thugs that are looking for her to take her back and to keep her away from the Laudanum that she’s become addicted to.

Eva wants nothing but to forget. She hates herself for killing her son and feels she deserves to be in the mad house. Ian tries to make her see that it’s not her fault but he has guilt aplenty about Eva’s dead husband, Hamilton, who was also Ian’s best friend. Ian sets out with a friend of his to prove that Eva isn’t crazy and that will get her out from under Thomas’s thumb. He tries to hide his love for Eva along the way but can’t quite manage it when she’s in such close proximity at all times.

This book started off really good. I was completely into Ian finding Eva and what he needed to do to get Eva out of the asylum. Even not long after that when they stopped for the night and they had it out about Eva’s Laudanum usage and she almost got herself killed trying to get a fix. Shortly after that the book went downhill for me.

Yes, the book was dark and gothic but the guilt that both Eva and Ian carried with them brought the story down to an almost depressing level. I was unimpressed with the constant inner fighting they both did with themselves and the slow pace that the book took on because of it. During the middle of the book I almost put it down completely but kept reading. I’m not sure I’m happy I did. Yes, everyone was happy in the end and it all worked out for everyone (almost too smoothly) but the getting to that point, for me, wasn’t worth the time spent.

I’m giving this story a slightly higher grade than I normally would just for the first part of the book, Mary’s part (which was small but awesome) and Ian’s friend’s involvement as those parts saved the book for me.  I think this is one that you have to read in order to decide on for yourself.  I looked at Goodreads and apparently I’m in the minority on my rating so if you read it let me know what you think.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place.

This book is available from Signet. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

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