Wednesday, June 17, 2009

TBR Wednesday: The Veil of Night - Review

As I've been plodding along in my reading and participating in not one, but two, challenges this year, it's a wonder I've been able to find books that fit the criteria for Keishon's mini-challenges. Y'all may have seen the state of my TBR, and the fact that there's no rhyme or reason to how they're stacked boggles the mind. Organization is not my strong suit -- just ask my mom. Oh, and John.

THE VEIL OF NIGHT by Lydia Joyce almost fell into my hands when I went searching this past weekend for a book that featured either a tortured hero or heroine. According to AAR's lengthy themes list, the heroine, Lady Victoria Wakefield, is the tortured one in this book, and that perked my interest. Too often the hero is the one who has suffered emotionally or physically and must learn how to accept his feelings for his woman. What I found was that while Victoria has her reasons for why she's become such a staid, matronly woman, Byron Stratford, Duke of Raeburn, shares an equal amount of stage in terms of torment and emotional pain.

From the blurb:

Under cover of night, he awaits her...

Byron Stratford, Duke of Raeburn, walks in shadow. Spoken of only in whispers, he lives alone in his crumbling manor, a cold, enigmatic recluse. Rarely appearing by the light of day, he moves as a wrait in the night, answering to no man. He cares little for those who dwell outside and does not abide the intrusion of others, lest they discover his secret shame...

Lord Raeburn is the sinister man Lady Victoria Wakefield must confront if she is to save herself from her family's ruin. Little does she suspect that she will become his shining star -- or that the passion radiating between them will be their only defense against the true darkness threatening to destroy them both...

My first hesitation in beginning this book was its Gothic tones and the utter grimness of a man who apparently lives in darkness for whatever reasons. As a nightshifter, while I'm most active at night and look at 2a.m. as dinner time more often than not, I cannot see being unable to see sunlight as a healthy way to live. Healthcare advocates even go so far as saying that going against the body's natural biorhythms of sleeping at night and wakefulness during the day is detrimental to one's health. But for Byron, he has good reasons for being a man of the night, and I'll elucidate no further than that. It's suffice to say, his reasons actually worked for the story and were very unique for the character.

When Victoria and Byron first meet, she's on a mission to save her family from shame by placing herself at his mercy in order so he may forgive her brother's debts. Byron is a hard man and an even tougher negotiator, and the deal is almost entirely cut off when he turns a cold shoulder to her predicament. In turn, he'll consider it if she spends one week with him in whatever capacity he chooses. Almost from the beginning, it's expected that she'll spend most of those days and nights in his bed. While Victoria presents an iron will and hides her true emotions behind bombazine and restrictive corsets, at her core she's a woman who has tasted passion and is not afraid of passion. She agrees to Byron's arrangement, but girds herself to put up with the Duke's austerity and quicksilver moodiness. What she finds instead is an attraction with such intensity that's both frightening and invigorating, and before too long she's ensnared.

I'm not a fan of characters who could easily be cast of marble and display hardly any emotion until they've discovered the pleasures in someone's bed. I hope that makes sense. Victoria could very easily have been such a creation, but the author wrote her with such passion and showed this reader why she hides her true self from those who have the power to hurt her.

THE VEIL OF NIGHT worked for me on almost every level, and I can honestly say that I was flipping pages as fast as I could, totally caught up in Lydia Joyce's skill at spinning a tale. I try not to gush whenever I recommend books to people, but I find that I may be guilty of a lot of *Squeeing* if I'm not careful. I love discovering new authors, and it's even more delightful that I don't have to search TOO much for this author's backlist since I seem to have quite a few of them in my TBR monstrosity already. I'm definitely hooked.

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