I read this for the Rogue square for Romance Bingo.
"So you see, I must have more power. It's the only way to survive them."
I struggled with my rating for this book because I loved how Hoyt portrayed Val. She provided an understanding for why Val is the way he is, almost excusing it but still kept him the unabashed rogue readers of the series have grown to know and almost against our will, love. Val doesn't really feel shame for his actions because his childhood was all about survival and nothing else makes sense to him. Hoyt kept him real. And naked, a lot of naked scenes ;)
She was making love to Val. Selfishly. Because she wanted to. Because he was everything she'd been denied in life---everything she'd denied herself: laughter and wit and books and adventure. Lust and sensuality. Silks and hot baths. Warm dogs and warmer bed linen. He was sin itself and if she was a sinner for a little while, she'd pay the price and gladly.
I also liked our heroine Bridget and her calmness and ability to accept and love Val for who he is. Her presence and reactions might help change Val for the better but she doesn't force anything. Her hidden pain but drive to continue on in life regarding how her mother never really brought her into her life was tender.
While I was a big fan of Val and Bridget separately, why I struggled with my rating was because I didn't fully feel the romance between the two. The lust seemed more prominent than deeper emotions. Towards the end I started to feel it a bit more with Val opening up but I missed more engaging talks, push, and pulls. This might have been because of Bridget's position as Val's housekeeper which sets up a power dynamic; she stood up to him at times but the power balance was uneven.
There were less former characters making appearances here, some of the Caires and Alf, and a few new introductions like the Lords of Chaos and the Duke of Kyle. The Duke of Kyle has caught my eye and as a not in your face dark guy, I'm a little shocked but there is something about him that draws me. Quite excited his book is next :)