I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Thinking they both wanted a marriage in name only, Liam and Anna start to find themselves more than attracted to one another by the time their marriage actually happens.
Thinking Liam is just another person abandoning her, Anna finally believes that his disappearance on their wedding night was all according to his plan. However, Liam was kidnapped and taken to a penal colony in Australia where his journey back to England is going to take more than physical distance traveled.
He was the fifth Earl of Lockwood. He had been abducted onto a prison hulk. He was chained and bound for the Australian colonies.
Sixth in the Rules for the Reckless series, there are characters that connect it to it but the book you'd most want to read before this one is The Duke of Shadows. The mystery and villains of what, why, who, and where are more comprehensively explained and dealt with there. I would have liked the main villain for Liam to have had more screen time here with more of a threaded in mystery plot than at the end condescended version we got. What we do get a lot of is the emotional turmoil and weight Liam lives with, Anna's thoughts, feelings, and how they swirl around and interact with Liam, and how these two fell in love initially and how they can find themselves back to one another.
Do not look at me. Or, more accurately: do not see me.
Stripped down to the frame, this is a story of a hero horribly done wrong, fighting his way back towards sanity, revenge, and a heroine working through her own hurts and trying to reach the hero. It is a tried and true formula but the author's writing ability infuses it with tragic and beautiful emotion; there are lines that will send tingles down your spine and ache to your heart. Liam's love for Anna is always evident, whether it’s shown through his marvel in the beginning, wall he puts up between them in the middle, or the eventual painful desire given into towards the end. I would have liked more of Anna's character flushed out a bit more through interactions with her cousin Moira (who gets a bit ignored at the end) or her people of the island, I felt like a depth of her character was missing because of the lack of friendships. Liam too could have stood to have more scenes with his household friends, imagine the light but incredible heavy scenes those moments could have produced. This was much focused on Anna and Liam's relationship, which I know some readers will love.
Unspeakable things had no reply. But he had survived them. So he could speak them.
There is a lot of anger, hurt, and love in this story, which as I mentioned, makes it a highly emotional read. I would have liked a little more outside of Liam and Anna's relationship influences but they could definitely carry the show. Flashback segments are used to show how Anna and Liam fall in love and except for, what I felt, was a too late placed one, I thought the character development was better for it. It has been a bit of wait to see why Lord Lockwood and his wife had such tension between them in The Duke of Shadows but it was worth it.