My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review at Romancing Rakes for the Love of Romance.
Maire Claremont is a new author for me, but when I saw the blurb of LADY IN RED, I couldn’t wait to get started reading it. I was immediately sucked in to the plight of Lady Mary Darrel, a woman starved and bedraggled, pleading for help at the doorstep of a London brothel as her last best hope for rescue. She was abused and misused at the hands of those doing the bidding of her monstrous father, the one who had locked her away in a madhouse after she’d witnessed his murder of her beloved mother. Her escape came at a great cost to herself and others, and now her incipient freedom might do likewise to those who will help her seek her vengeance.
When Edward Barrons sees Mary bathing upstairs in a whorehouse bedroom, he initially mistakes her for one of the working girls. After she sets him straight in a most direct fashion, it’s her spirit that calls to him as much as her only slightly diminished beauty. As Duke of Fairleigh, he has the power and social standing to protect her from her father, but only inasmuch as she will allow. As Mary begins to recover and prepares herself to take revenge on those who have harmed her, she and Edward start to bond in a way which could end in their mutual happiness if only they can confront their individual demons in time to see the light.
LADY IN RED was an intense read for me, one where I was so captivated by Mary and Edward and the terrible danger they were in that I was actually afraid to finish the book, deliberately putting it aside after reading a rare happy moment so I could finish it the next day. I especially enjoyed the presence of Edward’s cynical friend, Viscount Powers, who was just as damaged as Mary and Edward, yet was in a unique position to commiserate more fully with them individually than they were able to with each other. Once Mary is set on the path of revenge by Edward, the story hurtles along toward that dread goal, picking up speed along the way and sending me down a foreboding path of not knowing how it all could possibly end well for anyone. Reading THE RED LADY was a fantastic rollercoaster ride of emotions and I’m still experiencing a well-earned book hangover days later. I’ve already bought the first book in the Mad Passions series, THE DARK LADY, to read next, and I’m very pleased to see that Viscount Powers will be the hero of THE DARK AFFAIR. Maire Claremont is now one of my very favorite historical romance writers, and I have LADY IN RED to thank for that.
“Why are you so afraid?” she whispered.
“I am afraid of nothing,” he snapped, bracing his palms on the mantel.
“Fear and I are intimate acquaintances, Edward. You are in its bed.”