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Friday, January 6, 2012

Because of You by Cathy Maxwell

Because of You by Cathy Maxwell
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (375 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Is a reckless rogue worthy of the love of an innocent enchantress?

Pretty Samantha Northrup knows it is her duty to marry—but the chaste English vicar’s daughter secretly desires to be swept off her feet by a man whose kisses leave her breathless. And when a seductive stranger arrives at her door one stormy night, Samantha’s neat and orderly life is turned upside down—especially when she finds herself in a most compromising position . . . and is forced to marry a man she barely knows!

Samantha is unaware that her mystery bridegroom is Yale Carderock, the dashing, disinherited rakehell son of a duke, banished by his father years before. Now Lord Yale has returned—wealthier but only somewhat reformed—and he is bewitched by his lovely new bride’s awakening sensuality and innocent fire. But can this marriage of convenience be something more . . . and can a confirmed cad and society outcast truly change his ways enough to merit the lady’s tender love?

“It’s not right to hold on to the past when it’s done and over” is easier said than done, especially when the future holds so many scary unknowns.

The village of Sproule is Samantha Northup’s world. She has never even been to the next town. In early nineteenth century England, an over-the-hill, unmarried vicar’s daughter has limited possibilities when her father dies leaving her penniless and homeless. Even though she is a healer and the people in the village and surrounding community depend on her able, gentle care, the squire’s wife says, “…you’re a thorn in our side…” after an unfortunate incident. The villagers demand she marry the man who put her in an untenable position and he agrees, saying he will take care of her—which relieves the villager of a responsibility of seeing she is respectably housed and fed. Samantha saved his life and finds him irresistible. When he kisses her—her first kiss, it opens a Pandora’s Box. He is like a narcotic in her blood. He is her destiny, she is sure. Her naiveté leaves her open for heartbreak.

Yale Carderock, disinherited son of the now-dead duke of Ayleborough, owes his life to Samantha. He also finds that this stubborn woman, in dowdy clothes and humble in her service to others, is a sensual, hot-blooded woman—a treasure. With her fresh wholesomeness and her quickness to forgive others, she enthralls him. He fully intends to keep his word and to take care of her honorably—he just doesn’t plan to take her with him.

Plans get derailed when the present duke of Ayleborough, Yale’s brother Wayland, arrives in the village. Old hurts, regrets, expectations, guilt, and well-intended lies wreck what had been Samantha and Yale’s special relationship.

In London, the overwhelming society “niceties” in the duke’s house have Samantha drowning in the “do and don’t rules” while she is trying to come to terms with Yale’s intentions. He will see her settled and well cared for then he will be off to sea and to his Ceylon business. She tells herself she must learn to live with a broken heart.

An amazing secondary character is Fenley, a long-time man-of-service in the Carderock household. He understands Yale, but he sees Samantha’s love for Yale and her breaking heart. He tells her “Love is not something you can cage”. He helps her realize love enriches the spirit giving it meaning and depth. He encourages her to look passed the fears, doubts, hurts, and see love for what it is—bright, pure, and beautiful—a gift.

Yale’s awakening to what love really is comes when he sees Samantha with his extended family. He breaks a dinner date with the prime minister of England to be at his wife’s side. He finds that his forgiving, one-of-a-kind Samantha gives meaning to his life. When his business is dealt a crushing blow and he has to start over, Samantha’s love, stubbornness and determination buoy him up. She makes him feel complete and accepted unconditionally.

Cathy Maxwell is an awesome story teller. She connects the reader with the characters so the reader feels as if she is sharing emotionally fraught actions and love scenes—so special. She even makes secondary characters seem real. She also works in a touch of whimsy and magic here and there—the green pixie paperweight should not be discounted—just in case.

Because of You is spellbinding and memorable—smooth, captivating reading.