Book Review: The Lover by Robin Schone

The Lover (The Lover, #1)The Lover by Robin Schone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary:  Even desire has its price...

Thirty-six-year-old Anne Aimes is a spinster whose only attraction is her wealth. But her plain looks mask a passionate woman who yearns to know a man's intimate caresses. Michel des Anges- Michael of the Angels- is renowned for his ability to bring women pleasure. All it will cost her is ten thousand pounds...
Driven by vengeance, ravaged by tragedy, Michael seeks to lose himself in a woman who will demand only physical pleasure. A woman who won't suspect his own aching needs- or his true motive for accepting her terms. Unable to resist the lure of her guileless desire, he plunges her into a deadly web of deception and revenge where the price of carnal ecstacy is life itself...

I decided to read this because it's the prequel to Gabriel's Woman & I don't like to read series out of order if I can help it. I've never read anything else by Robin Schone but I very much enjoyed this. I was pretty much in from the start with Anne being the one who was paying Michael for a sexual liaison. Even with her financial means & the power she could exert with it, she was still vulnerable. I found Anne interesting & while she was a spinster of the time, I was glad that even with reticence she was forging out to experience long held desires that she'd subverted her whole adult life. Oddly enough, I felt as I read that her being a spinster & nurse to her parents was less a happenstance & more of a self-imposed life in hiding.

Michael was equally engaging & tragic. The scars he had from being burned paled in comparison to those that were etched on his psyche. So well was that conveyed that I was impressed that it was balanced so well with aspects of his that were less excusable (like withholding from Anne the imminent danger she was in because of him, for instance). I was not languishing in pity for Michael & that was a good thing. It made him real. I wanted to know who was after him & why almost as much as I rooted for he and Anne to forge a real relationship beyond their re-negotiated agreement. They seemed well suited in that they were both looking to live again & were so hopeful in the other & underneath the surface their personalities & needs were so similar. I did find the mentions of Diane to be annoying at a point as I wasn't sure if Michael was over her & just trying to replace her with Anne. Happily, it is made clear, at almost my breaking point, that was not the case.

To Gabriel, for quite some time, I honestly couldn't figure out if he was a true friend to Michael or a friend turned backstabber. It was intriguing the way it all played out & I must admit, I was worried for a while as it was initially so cryptic in the telling. If nothing else, it made the case for Gabriel to have his very own story told in the next book. I was also on edge about the man who was seeking to kill Michael & anyone tangentially connected to him. So cued in on that part of the story was I that I almost wanted to rush past everything else to get to the resolution of that thread (what a thing to say about an erotic romance!). I'm glad I didn't however, as the fullness of the story would have been lost. What a revelation & resolution!

Overall this was a very entertaining & engaging read. The characters, romance & looming threat were quite well done. I already miss Anne & Michael but I'll remember them fondly & I will definitely read the second in this series.

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