Obsession Wears Opals
Obsession Wears Opals, despite the jewel-themed title, has a dark undercurrent. The book tackles the subject of spouse abuse, a subject that is quite a hot button for me. The heroine’s emotional trauma is handled sensitively by the author and makes for a compelling character arc and strong story.
When an injured lady of quality arrives on his estate in Edinburgh, Darius Thorne knows something is amiss. The lady is clearly in trouble though she remains tight-lipped regarding her circumstances once she regains consciousness. Patient, scholarly Darius, though, is undaunted and vows to get to the bottom of what brought this beauty to his home on a cold, snowy morning.
Lady Isabel Netherton is running from an abusive husband. The knowledge that under the laws of the time she would be considered her husband’s property weighs heavily on her mind. Though the man who rescues her from the cold appears to be as gentle as a lamb, she knows all too well that looks can be deceiving. Isabel must guard her secret carefully lest she put the handsome stranger, his staff, and herself in mortal peril.
Though Isabel’s plight is a familiar one, it’s no less poignant for it. She blames herself for her poor marriage and feels it’s her own shortcomings that lead to Richard’s abuse. Compounding her guilt is the reaction of her parents when she attempts to broach the subject with her mother, who tells her she should learn to be a better wife to Richard. She’s truly alone in the world until she meets Darius and his gruff housekeeper with a soft heart.
Darius is what I believe embodies the qualities of a good beta hero. He is protective of Isabel, but allows her the freedom she needs emotionally and physically to overcome the fears she holds due to the mistreatment by her husband. He intends to fight Richard for her freedom, but with his wits as opposed to beating him to a bloody pulp.
I found their courtship to be so romantic. Darius does not try to push her and does not even really try to woo her. Their love blossoms naturally over games of chess and long conversations. Even once he learns her true identity he continues to think of her as “his Helen” and his “white queen,” the chess piece he keeps with him to remind him of her. Their love is simultaneously sweet and passionate.
My only major issue with the book is the suspense storyline involving the Jaded Gentlemen. I was not terribly interested in that storyline and would become annoyed when it would pop up. Of course, if a reader is an existing fan of the series, this may offer some fascinating new developments. As for me, I just wanted the story to return to Darius and Isabel since they were so cute together.
Obsession Wears Opals is part of the Jaded Gentlemen series. The romance, however, is completely standalone and gets a heart recommendation from me.