Rating: 5 Stars
Title: A Return of the Wicked Earl
Series: The Shadows #1
Author: Sadie Bosque
Genre: Historical Romance
I have read all of Bosque’s books in her Necessary Arrangements series so when I saw she had a new series I just had to read an ARC. And it certainly did not disappoint!
The story follows Annalise and Blake after the Earl returns after 14 months of captivity. The dream he had of his perfect wife waiting for him with open arms is dashed when he returns and sees she has not forgotten or forgiven him for everything he put her through in the months after their marriage. Determined to win her back, he refuses to acknowledge the past, content to move forward with a clean state, something Annalise finds much harder to do.
I adored Annalise and loved that whilst Blake hurt her abominably before his capture, she manages to open herself up and try to give him a second chance whilst making sure to guard her heart. She was strong and brave but also so very kind, and I couldn’t help but love her spirit. She was strong enough to tell him what she needed and that even if she loved him, she knew she deserved more from him and wouldn’t settle for less – such a beautiful and inspirational aspect of her story to read.
I enjoyed Blake’s character a lot and I liked that Bosque showed that he is still affected but the experience from the unimaginable trauma he went through but still manages to keep the story full of romance, love, and healing. I also thoroughly enjoyed the mystery of not knowing captured him and was on edge throughout dying to discover the truth.
The story very much brought to the forefront that women in this era were disregarded and overlooked, expected to fulfill a duty to provide heirs not to be loved or cared for. Blake’s attitude before his capture was truly awful and whilst knowing how he suffered was heart-wrenching, it gave him the much-needed clarity to see his wife as a treasure, not something to be used and discarded. I haven’t read any historical romance with this type of story but I really loved the themes this book explored and that it wasn’t a story about a rare and special love but a love that needed work and commitment to maintain.
The relationship between Annalise and Blake was complicated, full of history and complex feelings. I loved this slow-burn romance and felt the pace was perfect for their story. The steamy scenes were sinful perfection and added to the way the romance unfolded. The angst was painfully exquisite, and I was constantly wishing that he would just be honest with her and I couldn’t help but speed through the book, dying to see how it would play out. Overall, the romance was a different tone to the usual historical romances I read, more of a second chance romance and more focussed on trying to get over past hurts and trauma. I really enjoyed this style and loved the layers of angst this added.
Another aspect I loved was all of Annalise’s friends, I just adored meeting all the new characters and learning about their lives and am strongly hoping that we get a book for each of them to experience all of their stories!
Overall, this book was as deliciously entertaining as always, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it. I also cannot wait to see what comes next in this series! Bosque delivered a beautiful romance, full of love, hope, past hurts, and growth, as well as an intriguing mystery with darker undertones. It blended wonderfully together, and I loved seeing these two find their way back to each other.
Annalise was a wide-eyed debutante when she fell in love with Blake and wed him. The marital bliss did not last long, however. Her husband started treating her abominably, and three months later, completely disappeared. Now, after one year of absence, he's suddenly back and determined to prove he's a changed man. Only, Annalise is not as naive as she once was. She is not about to fall for his false platitudes, relentless wooing and scorching kisses again.
Blake, the Earl of Payne, had it all: a hefty inheritance, a respectable title, a beautiful wife. But it all crumbles when he is abducted, tortured and almost killed three months after his wedding. Now that he's back, he is determined to win back his wife and take revenge on whomever is responsible for his abduction. Neither task is going as planned, especially since his wife has moved on, and his abductors have a plan of their own.
Historical romance author Sadie Bosque
Sadie Bosque is a pen name, or an alter ego, if you like, of a sheltered young lady from the outskirts of the world. The one who broke free by reading and subsequently writing romance novels.