Miss Suri Thurston knows the pain of abandonment. Intent on confronting the grandmother who tossed her to the lions, she travels from England to her birthplace in India. Her plans run afoul when she encounters the man who, ten years prior, left a mark on her soul with one stolen kiss. But he is a duke, and far beyond the reach of even her dreams.
The Duke of Ravenswood, secret head of the British Foreign Service, has no time for relationships. His one goal is to locate and eliminate key insurgents involved in an uprising against the British East India Company before it's too late. But when Suri appears in Delhi, his resolve is tested as he finds his heart forever bound to her by the one haunting kiss they shared once upon a time.
With Suri's vengeful Indian family looking for her death, and insurgents intent on mutiny tearing their world apart, can their love rise above the scandal of the marriage they both desperately want?
One question that had me stumped throughout the whole book: Why is there a ship on the cover? This is not a story about shipping, ocean travel or pirates. This is a very different sort of story and not a typical Historical Romance. Suri is the product of her father’s affair with an Indian woman who was killed by her family for giving birth to Suri. Suri was left to be eaten by lions (a baby eaten by lions – how barbaric!) by her mother’s family but rescued and raised by her father and his wife who accepted her as her own. Suri was never treated differently than her half-sister and brothers, but she always knew she was half-caste and that while her family might not treat her differently, society will.
Suri has a burning desire to better understand her origins, so she travels to India where her half-sister now resides to connect with her lost family. She doesn’t realize that there could be any danger in this exotic country. Ironically, Lord John Fairfax, the Duke of Ravenswood she met a decade earlier in her family’s stable who gave her and her sister quite a lesson in the art of kissing, happens to be in India and a contemporary of her sister’s husband. He seems weirdly flamboyant with a pet cheetah, yes I said cheetah, and an extravagant lifestyle. They both have not really gotten over that one kiss, strange but true, even though John is widowed (sad story). Their reconnection is met with her reluctance at first since she is trying to reunite with her family secretly, but she needs the duke’s protection and he is willing to give it.
I eat up books that are set in exotic locations and this time period where England and India were at odds creates a suspenseful backdrop to this story. I felt the danger they were in and the fear and confusion they felt when things went down. I was saddened by some of the collateral damage and surprised by some of the turncoats that were revealed. I honestly didn’t see the outcomes which is always good – I like to be outwitted and surprised. It felt like two different books – the last third of the book was so different from the first two thirds and I didn’t know how it would turn out.
I liked Suri and John for the most part, but they also had some qualities I didn’t like. I thought Suri was more naïve than necessary. She wore her half-caste heritage as a badge, yet had been raised to know no different. John seemed very typical of a policeman/spy/mercenary type that one reads about so often – autocratic, tough guy, “my way or the highway” almost. But he also showed a vulnerability that made him more real. They spent so little time together and I suppose the saying “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” is true in this case. The secondary characters were interesting, especially Trent…I cannot wait to hear his story.
Overall, a good read and I recommend it reading it!
I received this book from the publisher and I happily provide my honest review.