I have a love hate relationship with Anna Campbell, and it seems I like every other book she writes, and since I hated the last one I was excited for this one. The every other rule still holds true. I really enjoyed this one and was up all night reading it.
Sidonie Forsythe was raised by her sister Roberta and loves her more than herself, which is why she agrees to take her sisters place as a week-long bedmate to the hideously scarred and hated Jonas Merrick as a way to pay off Roberta's gambling debts. Arriving at his gothic, dilapidated home in the moorish wilds she is scared and afraid of what will happen when Jonas learns that she is to take Roberta's place. Sidonie hopes that her virginity is worth more to Jonas than his desire to humiliate Roberta's husband, which is what he originally planned to do when he gambled and won against Roberta. Jonas agrees to the trade as long as Sidonie promises to be honest about her desire for him. He wagers that in a week he can seduce her, but she must not hide from him, or lie about her feelings to him.
There's a ton more to this plot, but it isn't the plot that makes this book so great, as usual with Campbell it's the steamy love scenes and beautiful writing. Jonas is not a hero every reader is going to like. He is scarred terribly both inside and out. What he's been put through should have left his soul dark, but the problem is he's a huge freaking marshmallow who's afraid to let anyone in.
Sidonie gets in though. He can't hide from her goodness and honesty. Her purity is something he's never known or trusted. But there's a dark secret she's keeping. A secret that could alter Jonas's life, which is my only problem with this book. When Jonas finds out what Sidonie has been hiding he understandably freaks out. BUT the punishment he forces on both of them was too much. I just felt that the book started to drag because he was being a stupid baby.
Still, overall I loved this book. Campbell has a way of compelling me to keep reading. Not only is the writing itself just beautiful in an old gothic type style, but she packs a mean emotional punch through every interaction. She gets us into the characters' heads and hearts. This is what makes her sex scenes so damn amazing. The sex isn't just body parts, it's shattered dreams, betrayal, discovery, and hope as the characters join body and soul. Only a handful of authors do this for me, and she's among the best.
Bottom Line: As with most of Campbell's books, this one isn't for everyone. Our hero spends a lot of time being a brutal ass. BUT that's part of what makes this book so compelling. It takes a strong writer to make me love an ass and cry over his heartache.