Lord of Wicked Intentions
This book is the third and final installment of Lorraine Heath’s Lost Lords of Pembrook series. Lord Rafe Easton is the youngest of the Pembrook men who ran away as children to escape their uncle’s plans to murder them for the title after he murdered their father. I have read all three books and I think this may be the strongest of the lot. It is not necessary to have read the first two in order to read this book.
When Rafe was ten years old, his uncle conspired to murder him and his two brothers in order to steal the title of Duke of Keswick. A good friend alerted the boys to these nefarious plans and they escaped just in time. Because of his age, his older brothers (Tristan and Sebastian) decided to leave Rafe at a workhouse rather than let him try to make his way in the world at such a young age. They all agreed to meet up in ten years’ time to regain their inheritance from their uncle. His brothers did not realize the horrors of the workhouse and Rafe suffers grievously while he was there. He escaped from the workhouse but ended up on the streets of London and was soon involved with very shady characters. He eventually took over a gaming house from a local crime lord and became very wealthy. When his brothers do return four years later than they had agreed upon, Rafe is furious with them and wants nothing to do with the brothers who abandoned him.
Evelyn Chambers is the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Wortham. While her father spoiled her with material things, she was kept away from society like a bird in a gilded cage. When her father passes away, her half-brother Geoffrey allows his feelings of hate and revulsion to show through and comes up with a plan to get rid of his embarrassment of a sister once and for all. He decides to auction her off to the highest bidder. Evelyn thinks he is arranging a marriage for her, but Geoffrey needs money to pay off the gambling debt he owes to Rafe Easton. Rafe attends the auction to insure his investment is safe. When he sees Evelyn, for some reason he cannot let her be sold to the dissolute Lord Ekroth. So Rafe purchases her himself. Evelyn believes she has become betrothed to Rafe at first. When she discovers her real role, she is shocked. In her naivety, she really believed that Geoffrey would honor their father’s wishes to see her well settled. She never saw the intensity of Geoffrey’s hatred for her and having her rose colored glasses smashed to pieces is very painful to see.
Rafe Easton is a cold and hard man. He very much intends to make Eve his mistress, but he finds he has no stomach for a woman in his bed if she is not willing. So he decides to give her time to reconcile herself to her situation and then slowly seduce her in the process. This decision also allows the hero and heroine the time to get to know one another and during that process the icicles around Rafe’s heart begin to thaw. Eve also becomes the conduit toward the reconciliation between Rafe and his brothers. It is easy to understand the circumstances that made Rafe the man he has become.
It is a little harder to reconcile Eve with her upbringing. The fact that she is so innocent is not unbelievable, but the fact that she has absolutely no clue that her brother Geoffrey despises her is a little harder to swallow. He is not portrayed as an exceptionally intelligent man and that degree of loathing seems like it would be hard to hide for 20 years. For this reason, it took me a little while to warm up to Eve. I do not particularly care for the ingénue type of heroine. However, she did grow as a character and learn about the harsh realities of life without becoming bitter in the process. I did come to like her character as she evolved.
There are other intrigues and dangers that Rafe and Eve will face as they move toward their HEA as well as the HEA of the Lost Lords of Pembrook. On the whole, this book is a well written and enjoyable read and I give it an unqualified recommendation.