Thursday, September 7, 2017
Review: Shirlee Busbee’s LOVERS FOREVER – Smugglers, Mystery and Amnesia!
Set in 1811, mostly in Kent, this is the story of Lady Tess Mandeville. Tess looks like her ill-fated great grandmother, who also had red hair and violet eyes and who was abducted, raped and impregnated by Baron Mandeville, and forced to marry the evil man instead of the Earl of Sherbourne whom she loved. Now there is another Baron Mandeville, Avery, a distant cousin of the one who recently died. Thinking to have her fortune, Avery imprisons Tess in his house and demands she wed him.
With the aid of her aunts, Tess escapes, only to fall into the hands of smugglers looking for a horse. They take her horse and her jewels and hit her on the head, whereupon she loses her memory. In a nearby traveler’s inn, she meets the handsome Nicolas Talmage, Earl of Sherbourne, who assumes she is a tavern wench available for his use. He plies her with liquor and takes her innocence. When he tells Tess she will become his mistress, she refuses, but Nicolas ignores her. He takes her to an old cottage on the outskirts of his estate where he basically holds her prisoner as his mistress and “no thought of resisting him crossed her mind.” Apparently neither was concerned she might birth a bastard.
I love Busbee’s storytelling, which captured me immediately with Tess’ strange family history, and the inclusion of smugglers operating on the coast of Kent. The mystery of what happened to Tess’ great grandmother persists till the end. The plot thickens when the smugglers return and threaten Tess. Meanwhile, her uncles, who guard her fortune, are on the hunt for her. I loved Busbee’s portrayal of the uncles and their dry speech. And all her Regency expressions add richness to the story.
However, the instant lust between both the hero and heroine was a bit jarring, especially with her being an innocent and never having met him before. To my thinking, she also gave in to him too easily. It was interesting to me that neither Nicolas nor anyone else noticed Tess’ aristocratic speech, unlikely for a tavern whore. That aside, it was a great story and the mystery of her grandmother is solved in the end.