Seduction & Scandal (The Brethren Guardians #1) by Charlotte Featherstone
I adore how Charlotte's Featherstone seems to weave a dark and seductive web with her almost poet writing, with her characters that are heartbreaking real in their love and passion that ignites between them- molds them, changes them, heals them. CF starts off with a almost dark velvet web that binds the reader in the first of The Brethren Guardians series Seduction & Scandal. Isabella Fairmont is a dreamer, whom writes her most fondest and darkest desires into a book, keeping herself separate from the passion that burns inside of her, to the proper marriage and staublity she craved for many years, as she watched her mother waste away from one man to another. Bella doesn’t want that, and she’ll do anything to suppress her emotions, and live through them with her writing and dreams. Until across the ballroom one night she meets the mesmerizing eyes of one Lord Black and deep down knows she’s lost her heart even as her deepest fears want to hold her back. Lord Black has watched Bella from afar, craves her and wants her as his own. Finally feeling the time was right, makes himself known to Bella, even as his darkest secrets start to emerge along with him from the shadows. Black will do anything to have Bella, even if it means protecting her from himself, but outside dangers forces the two together, much of their fears, secrets and desires will finally take flight from the shadows into the light... As I read this, I kept being reminded of scenes from old gothic romance novels much of the vein as the Brontë sisters. This tone was very gothic in nature and I was quickly drawn into the book that CF knows how to set up perfectly with snippets of Bella’s own novel of Lord Death and his bride. Which were preshadowing in some cases, giving a peek into Bella’s past and memories that perhaps were suppressed...? Bella is a dreamer, but in a family torn apart and a mother having to make do with her beauty to support her child, Bella didn’t want to suffer that again, so she turns inward. At times it was very hard to connect to Bella. I as a reader, have to have a sort of empathy for the characters in some form or fashion and with Bella, she truly evaded that connection. On some levels I understood where she was coming from and others I felt she was just running away, carrying her troubles with her like chains around her neck. Even when Black laid his heart on the line, she still held a part of herself back or ran away. She finally did glow when her strengths in being non-judgement toward Black and his own past, and willing to risk her life for those she loved. She was also smart where she didn’t have some TSTL moments which if any reader has gone through- is a blessing onto it’s self! Lord Black, oh, dear Lord Black. The tragic hero whom loves so greatly, yet fears to touch the gentle bloom of love. CF knows how to write this type of hero that is neither Alpha or Beta. With a seductive whisper and smile that has you glued to your book, flipping through the pages then going back to re-read them again. From the moment Lord Black walks into that ballroom, you like Bella are drawn to him, and early on unlike Bella, reasons are given but not all. But enough to understand as to why he acts and does the things he does. He stole my heart away, I’m not ashamed to say, and felt sadden as his own lost of pain, and his undying belief in love! *sighs* The romance went hand and hand with the mystery behind The Brethren Guardians and a new take on the old Knights of Templer. I find CF”s story very engrossing, with a lot of loose ends to be picked up through the series. With it picking up between the secondary characters of Sussex and Lucy, whom have a connection that I can’t wait to read about, especially the tiny cliffhanger between the time that was left to be pick-up.. Seduction & Scandal was everything I loved to read in a romance and more and I can’t wait to fall in love with rest of this series.