Lord of Regrets by Sabrina Darby
Overview by Amazon:
Despite the love and sensuous addiction they shared, Lord Marcus Templeton could never marry Natasha Polinoff. Not while he remained under his grandfather’s vise-like control. But when Natasha announces her out-of-wedlock pregnancy – which would destroy his inheritance – Templeton explodes into a rage. One that sends Natasha running into the unforgiving night, never to return…
Now five years have passed, and Lord Templeton has finally found his beloved. And this time, the viscount will have her.
However, Natasha has settled into a new life with her young daughter. Lord Templeton’s arrival fills her with terrible fear… and undeniable longing. He has come to claim her. Yet even as her body still longs for his touch, her anger still burns. She is no mere possession. But Lord Templeton will do whatever it takes to bring her back into his arms and back into his bed. Even if it means resorting to blackmail to make Natasha his wife…
The main theme of this book is regret. Regret makes people angry. It makes them resentful. It makes them do things that are shameful. This story pulls heavily on the regrets of the two main characters and the mess their lives have become. But from this regret, they try to build a new life while learning to let go from the regrets they harbour.
Natasha at the age of 18 fled her family to be Marcus’s mistress. After reading hundreds of historical romance novels, it was a little hard to believe that a well brought up young woman would throw away a future to be a mistress to a young buck on the town. In flashbacks, we learn of a heady, sensual time the two shared. It was idyllic until the reality of an unexpected pregnancy changed everything. Natasha fled in the night to avoid a forced abortion from a furious Marcus. By the time he came to his senses quickly, it was too late.
He spends the next 5 years building up his wealth, looking for ways to avoid the machinations of this grandfather and searching desperately for Natasha. He had a long time to let his regret ferment and grow. He grew up and realized the enormity of his mistake.
When he finally locates Natasha, he has worked through the stages of grief of loss and regret. However this regret is buried once he finds her and he is so eager to resume their love affair. He offers carte blanche – marriage, a title and a home for their illegitimate daughter.
Natasha has had to fend for herself and child for the past 5 years. Alone, pregnant and afraid, she drifted from place to place until she found a small village where she assumed the identity of a widow. She is lonely and sad and angry too. She carved out a meaningful existence for her daughter and with the shield of widowhood, some respectability. This is gone once Marcus returns like a tempest.
He tries wooing her, he makes demands and eventually he blackmails her into marrying him once she tries to run from him again. This happens in the first third of the book, so the reader knows that they have a long road to reconciliation.
Natasha and Leona enter into Marcus’s London world. It is a struggle to fit in. His prickly mother is not pleased, but she puts the good of the family name first. Leona adapts as well as any four year old would. She begins to bond with her father and make London her home.
The problems lie between Marcus and Natasha. He is still so remorseful and begs her frequently to move on, get past it and start fresh. Natasha harbours so much anger and resentment that she can’t adjust to her new life. She fights all of Marcus’s overtures and refuses to give him her heart and body (except for a few occasions when lust overcomes). It is a tale of two people with a very sad history learning about each other and learning to trust and love again.
Marcus is eventually worn down. He can’t handle her rejections anymore and takes a diplomatic mission to France to help with the Napoleon problem on behalf of his autocratic grandfather. This leaves the introduction of Natasha to society to Marcus’ mother Kitty and his grandfather. She experiences the inevitable discovery that she played mistress before marriage and hides the knowledge of Leona away from the world. She makes some new friends from the grandfather’s entourage who help her and guide her. Lord Carlisle makes fast friends with her and wishes to have an affair. Natasha flirts and enjoys that attention, but ultimately realizes that she wants the promise of marriage, not an affair.
Marcus floats around Europe doing diplomatic work. This was less interesting as it was really his moment of running away. He becomes injured in Italy, setting the stage for a reunion between the two. Natasha travels to see him and the two make their vows to start fresh and make this a marriage in truth.
I liked Natasha, she demonstrated great determination that most people would have collapsed under in today’s modern world, let alone England in the 1800s. She is a fighter. I found it very believable that she couldn’t and wouldn’t forgive Marcus. No matter how sinfully handsome he was and how much she physically ached to have sex with him.
Marcus as a youth was callow and unlikable. To ask a young unmarried woman to be his mistress without thinking of any of the consequences made me wonder what on earth Natasha saw in him besides a drinking buddy, a great time in the sack and an adventure. However, the five years have matured him. He is profitable in trade, works his estates and undertakes the task of finding Natasha with zeal. He is regretful, mourns what could have been and tries every tactic he knows to win her back.
The sex scenes between the two are spicy. Since they have clearly done the deed before, there is no hestiation on either part. They know what they like. When Marcus dreams of burying his face between her legs and she rides his hard, you feel the sexual compatibility between the two. Since they spend most of the book at odds with each other, there are not a ton of sex scenes, but when they happen they are torrid.
Overall this was a good read. It was a little melancholy since some much emotional baggage followed the characters around. The secondary characters lent some relief from the constant turmoil between the two. What hooked me as a reader was how the eventual reunion would happen. After all this is a romance novel and there must be a happy ending!