I LOVED how proactive Susannah is (love the name!) at the beginning, despite her Presents’ ivory tower for heiresses awaiting arranged marriages. I loved how heroic she comes across in searching for her missing husband. I was unsure about the hero being missing for 4 years, but the amnesia works here, and the cult is a prison for him, too.
Leonidas having been celibate, untempted, and then his bride waltzes up and they have their wedding night 4 years after the wedding works well! I didn’t know how Crews would pull that off, but she does.
There’s an intensity about them being married, about her looking out for his interests, and using her widowhood as her armour, about the wedding night 4 years late, and how she’s been looking for him all that time, and the lengths she’s gone to to survive in his rich man's world, that I loved. They’re married, they’ve consummated the marriage, there’s lots of intensity, so it gets going really well, and really quickly. The external stuff is also intriguing enough to keep you turning the pages.
The pace slows as they skate around the edges of a relationship, which started so powerfully but then doesn’t move, forward or backwards for a while. The pregnancy bombshell breaks this and is nicely played from a dialogue, emotion, characterisation and voice point of view and I'm immersed more deeply in this relationship and loving it.
As the relationship progresses, the plot injects pace into backstory, characterisation and emotion and fits the relationship. Weaving together fast-paced plot with enough character-driven elements works.
I loved the high emotion that culminates in another ungeneric love scene that's right for the characters.
The kidnapping felt unnecessary. Maybe page 157 is too late for forced proximity? Or maybe there are quite a few tropes already? The heroine sleeping through being transferred from the townhouse and not waking til on the plane was another off note; I would have preferred to stay connected to her feelings and motivations. Leonidas also loses some hero points as his place in the cult is represented slightly differently later in the story and is a bit unPresents and overdone.
Four stars for heroic, proactive heroine, ruthless alpha hero, relationship intensity & depth, fab beginning & passion-fuelled, emotionally satisfying ending and epilogue
Arc received from Harlequin via NetGalley in return for my thoughts and feedback