“Engaged in Sin” (on sale 11/1/11) is my second Dell historical romance, and features one of my most ‘tortured heroes’, Devon Audley, the Duke of March. Wounded in battle at Waterloo, Devon was left blinded and is tormented by memories of war. “Engaged in Sin” includes two of my favorite themes: redemption and healing.
I love stories where the heroine heals the hero; where the hero is brave and noble, but is being crushed by the weight of guilt, loss, or painful memories. Devon Audley went to war even though, as a duke’s son and heir to the title, he should not go. He went to escape the grief of losing his fiancee, only to throw himself into a horrifying nightmare of violence and loss. When he returns to England without his sight and suffering ‘battle-madness’ as he terms it, he refuses to go to his family, as he doesn’t want to burden them. Instead he behaves like a recluse and hides in his hunting box (a country house used by gentlemen during the hunting season). Devon refuses to accept help—until the heroine, Anne Beddington, thrusts herself into his life.
Anne is in danger. She is on the run, accused of a crime she did not commit. When she learns Devon’s friend intends to hire a courtesan to give Devon a little “sexual healing”, Anne pretends to be the ladybird, trying to keep her past a secret.
Anne’s touch brings Devon more than pleasure. Gradually, she helps to heal his heart and soul. She learns one of the reasons for his nightmares—he was forced to make a horrible choice in a battle—and she becomes determined to help him. Here is a small excerpt from one of my favorite scenes. In it, Anne has decided that the best way to begin helping Devon is to clean him up, by shaving his stubble and trimming his hair…
“But she had to do this—sex hadn’t worked, so she must do something else to make her appear so valuable and indispensable he would not dream of sending her away. “I certainly wouldn’t hurt you deliberately,” she said. “And I’ve”—the lie slipped out with dreadful ease—“done this many times before. I think this would be very erotic.”
“Indeed.” He grinned for a moment, but then his mouth straightened into a serious line, his eyes haunted. “I am worried about how I will react to the pressure of the razor on my neck.” (Excerpt from Engaged in Sin)
Some of my favorite “healing” historical romances include Lisa Kleypas’s “Love in the Afternoon”, where the hero must cope with post-traumatic stress from the Crimean War. I also love Jo Beverley’s “Something Wicked”, where the hero was forced to kill his violent father, and the heroine is the sister of his most hated enemy. In disguise, she coaxes him to reveal this dark secret.
Do you enjoy romances with a healing theme? What are your favorites?
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