Desire, the latest book in Nicole Jordan’s Notorious series, mixes searing love scenes with a strong plot and inherently good characters. Despite some problems with both the hero and the heroine, overall the book passionate, romantic, and well-written.
Brynn Caldwell is a woman cursed. Generations ago, her ancestress stole the affections of a Gypsy woman’s lover, and ever since, “Flaming Nell” and the women of her family have been cursed to lose the men they love to horrible deaths, while involuntarily bewitching all men who come near. Brynn’s own mother suffered this curse, and already Brynn has lost a suitor to untimely death. So when the notorious Lord Wycliffe takes notice of her, she knows she must guard his heart and her own from the perils of love – for the good of everyone.
Lucian Tremayne, Earl of Wycliffe, is reconsidering his stance on marriage. Aside from being one of the most notorious lords of the ton and a charter member of the Hellfire League, he is also a spymaster for the British Foreign Office. A recent brush with death has awakened within him an unanticipated desire for progeny – and an heir. For this he needs a wife, and he knows her when he sees her. Brynn is bewitching, and he means to have her. Even her protests hardly deter him. Her family is impoverished and probably involved in smuggling. She has no choice. Soon, however, Lucian finds that he wants more than just a child from his spirited bride. He wants her love.
Brynn is one of your run-of-the-mill selfless heroines, ready to sacrifice everything for her family. Except that in her desire to keep Lucian at bay, she often becomes downright bitchy. Even knowing that she’s doing so for a good reason – specifically, to save his life – it’s very hard to warm up to her when she does things like coldly order him to get off of her after a particularly intense and fiery love scene (in which she has been not only willing but extremely enthusiastic just moments before). Meanwhile, Lucian acts like an arrogant ass for awhile, then does a complete turn-around when a friend calmly suggests that he may in fact be in the wrong. This was a little abrupt for me, with no in-between time. The first part of the book, he’s all about himself and his own desires; in the second half, he’s all about hers.
Still, the characters manage to remain likable and sympathetic despite these problems, especially as we see enough into their personalities to understand and even sympathize with their behavior. Their reluctant love for each other is both passionate and tender, and their road to happiness has its share of bumps-and then some. Yet, despite the element of distrust in the later half of the novel, when Lucian begins to suspect that Brynn may be committing treason, their relationship never veers off into bitterness. Ms. Jordan plays her characters well, and keeps the plot moving at a perfect pace, tying everything together in the end, without making the reader feel manipulated.
The plot is good, tension stays very high throughout, and the book never succumbs to total predictability, although there is some to be had. The writing is sound, and the requisite secondary characters are appealing enough to make me want to read the other books in the series, particularly the one belonging to Brynn’s friend Raven, and the one pertaining to Lucian’s companion Dare.
Despite a few character flaws, Desire is an entertaining novel, filled with a strong plot, good characters, a touching romance, and plenty of steamy sex. And really, what better way to pass the time?