Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Dead Man's Debt by Grace Elliott





Back Cover Blurb:

A Dead Man's Debt - a story of blackmail, duty and an unexpected love!

After publically humiliating a suitor, Miss Celeste Armitage is sent from the Ton in disgrace and resolves never to marry. But when she finds a sketch book of nude studies and discovers the artist is her hostess's eldest son, Lord Ranulf Charing, she finds herself dangerously attracted to exactly the sort of rogue she is sworn to avoid. Nothing is as it seems. Lord Ranulf's life is a facade and he is being blackmailed over his late brother's debts. But just as the darkly restless Ranulf unexpectedly learns to love, the vengeful fury of his nemesis unleashed. In order to protect Celeste, Lord Ranulf faces a stark choice between duty and true love... However Ranulf has underestimated Miss Armitage's stubborn resolve to clear his name, and in so doing places the woman he loves in mortal danger.

What a wonderful surprise this book turned out to be. I stumbled upon it quite by accident and it turned out to be one of my favourite historical romance reads this year.  It stands apart from other novels of the genre for several reasons.  First, the book is a little longer in length than most and this gave the author time to write with greater detail, bringing her characters truly alive. Secondly, it allowed plenty of time to write in more twists and turns and enhanced scenes. The result - a novel with tension that kept building and building, gaining momentum with every page turn. Thirdly, the story is just plain good!

Right from the start, each character is immersed in some kind of conflict. The hero, Ranulf, is faced with clearing his dead brother's debts and trying to make his way as an artist despite his family's disapproval. Heroine, Celeste, is striving to recover from a tarnished reputation after humiliating a suitor. And an evil villain and villainess are out to take what is not theirs and destroy the love blossoming between Ranulf and Celest. As you read along, just when you think the Ranulf and Celeste have suffered to the maximum extent, enter another twist that makes matters worse for them. The novel truly did keep me hook, providing me with one surprise after another - all unexpected. 

This story has it all - love, betrayal, blackmail, illicit love, scandal, secrets, danger, and savagery. And the list continues.  Couple all this with the author's artful writing, and you have a novel that is sure to delight. I'm not surprised it is getting raving reviews already.  The characters are so real, so believable, I'm still thinking of them hours after the story ended.  

The talented Grace Elliot is definitely a historical romance writer to watch in the future. I'm hooked and I'm already breathlessly awaiting her next novel. I hope she hurries!