|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?
This story centers around two people trying to escape their past. Edward is trying to right a wrong he’s convinced he could have prevented when he realized that his father raped and killed a young girl. Edward thought he could have and should have went for help to try and save her but he was young, scared and didn’t do anything. He came forward to tell the truth to the authorities that resulted in his father’s hanging but he’s still living with guilt over the young girl’s death. When he sees Mary, a woman who was living in hell at an asylum for years, who managed to escape and seek refuge with her dead mother’s friend, he sees a way for him to help a woman who needs it and hopefully ease some of the pain he’s been living with for years.
Mary tugged at my heart in the first book of this series (The Dark Lady) when she sacrificed herself to save someone else and I’ve been worried about her ever since. She’s the daughter of a Duke, a horrible man with a vicious temper who killed her mother and had Mary sent off to an asylum where she was tortured, raped, starved, you name it, she went through it. She managed to make it to Yvonne, her mother’s friend, but they both know she can’t stay with her since it’s the first place her father’s men will look. Edward has offered to take her into his keeping, having her pose as his mistress and living with him so she has a safe place to stay and time to heal. Mary is so very wary of men and she can’t let herself believe that Edward only wants her safe and secure and wants nothing more from her that she isn’t willing to give. She’s out of options through and goes with Edward.
As Mary starts to recover and gain some semblance of confidence back, Edward suggests taking things to the next level, as in not just recovering but preparing herself to get revenge against her father. Mary is ready to put the past behind her, confront her father and make him pay for everything he put her and her mother through, so she starts training with Edward and his sort-of friend Powers on fighting, knives and shooting. But the more Mary starts focusing on revenge, the more Edward believes he’s helped to put her on the wrong path. This serves to start to drive a wedge between Mary and Edward especially after they had starting getting so close and it’s the catalyst that sends Mary heading off on her own and finding danger. But being a changed woman from the one she was the first time she found herself in the asylum, the outcome is much different this time.
This is a very dark romance. Much like The Dark Lady was, there are no are no pretty balls to attend or dresses to wear in the latest fashion. This is about Mary and Edward trying desperately to move beyond their pasts to find happiness in the present. Mary knows she can do that with Edward, but it’s getting Edward to stop blaming himself for events in the past that prove hard to do. I really liked seeing the protective Edward early on. He wanted nothing more than to care for Mary and if that was simply giving her a safe place to stay, that was enough. If it was more she needed, he provided any and everything and when the time was right they found comfort with each other as well. Their romance is enjoyable and but what really struck a cord with me was how Edward acted early on, he only wanted Mary to be safe and recover and I loved how he took care of her.
With the darkness that surrounds this series, there is violence and it’s sometimes heartbreaking to read. In this case, a supporting character helps the wrong person and pays the price. For as much as I enjoyed Mary and Edward, Yvonne and Powers are the supporting characters that really made me stand up and take notice. I love the roles they both play in Lady in Red and I hope to see more of them both in the future. They both have such interesting backstories, especially Powers who’s so tortured by grief (aren’t they all in this series!) I want to know more.
There’s something very satisfying reading a story that has such a dark undertone, where characters are put through the wringer and come out on the other side for the better. Mary and Edward both have their issues to battle and finding peace with each other makes their sometimes hard journey well worth it.
Release Date: October 1, 2013
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*eARC provided by publisher for review*