Carrie Lofty sweeps her readers away to exotic Moorish Spain, in her newest novel Scoundrel’s Kiss, a fabulous follow-up to her Zebra debut, What a Scoundrel Wants.
In a land of contrasts, divided by several faiths, Ada of Keyworth is in the throes of a debilitating dependence on opium. Once a scholar in England, now Ada seeks only a mindless, blissful escape from brutal memories of her past in England. In her desperation, she rushes headlong into danger.
Gavriel de Marqueda is a novice of the knightly Order of Santiago, also determined to leave the past behind him. He blindly follows his master, Gonzalo Pacheco, who has one final test of Gavriel’s devotion before he can join the Order. Gavriel soon finds himself standing in a brothel, where the beautiful Ada, in the clutches of the opium, awaits the highest bidder. Her friend Jacob rescues her, but knowing he cannot ease Ada’s addiction, he asks Gavriel to help her overcome it. She will be his final test.
Traveling north beyond the ragged mountains of Toledo, Ada awakens from her stupor to find herself in the company of Gavriel, his master and another novice, Fernan. Neither man is truly as he appears, each carrying a secret of his own. Ada teases Gavriel with her bold sensuality. He struggles with a growing attraction to her, which threatens to undo his tenuous control. Later, Gavriel separates from the brothers of his Orders, and travels alone with her. Danger stalks them along the frontier. Shadowy men with ties to Gavriel’s past are on their trails. All his personal oaths are soon in jeopardy, for in addition to a vow not to kill, he’s also taken a vow of celibacy.
When Ada arrives at the Order’s stronghold, she seemingly free of her opium dependence, but another addictive need, for Gavriel, has replaced it. The old temptation of the drug is also never far from her. Yet, Gavriel remains steadfast at her side. Their bond strengthens when he reveals his past, and recognizes the danger which surrounds them. But unknown to both of them, Ada holds a stunning connection to his past, one that will determine their fates, and the survival of a Spanish kingdom.
Carrie Lofty is a wonderfully, talented writer, and her Scoundrel’s Kiss is an engaging story. Ada and Gavriel, both haunted by their pasts, find common ground and absolution in each other. They are memorable, for their bravery and resilience with each new trial, but even more, for the power of their love. Their story was a great pleasure to read and I highly recommend Scoundrel’s Kiss.
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