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Captives of the Night

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When the intriguing Comte d'Esmond enters a room, women swoon and men gnash their teeth. The count is fully accustomed to this reaction and brilliant at exploiting it. What he isn't prepared for is Leila Beaumont. One look from her tawny eyes is dangerously captivating. How ... troublesome. Esmond can't afford the distraction of an entanglement, however passionate it promi When the intriguing Comte d'Esmond enters a room, women swoon and men gnash their teeth. The count is fully accustomed to this reaction and brilliant at exploiting it. What he isn't prepared for is Leila Beaumont. One look from her tawny eyes is dangerously captivating. How ... troublesome. Esmond can't afford the distraction of an entanglement, however passionate it promises to be. He's supposed to be working --- for the government! --- and his employers want Leila's corrupt and treacherous husband brought to justice. When the spouse, unsurprisingly and conveniently, gets himself murdered, all Esmond has to do is clear Leila of suspicion and proceed to the next assignment. But not being hanged for her husband's murder isn't enough for Leila. She wants to learn the truth --- all of it --- from Esmond, a man who's been lying all his life.


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When the intriguing Comte d'Esmond enters a room, women swoon and men gnash their teeth. The count is fully accustomed to this reaction and brilliant at exploiting it. What he isn't prepared for is Leila Beaumont. One look from her tawny eyes is dangerously captivating. How ... troublesome. Esmond can't afford the distraction of an entanglement, however passionate it promi When the intriguing Comte d'Esmond enters a room, women swoon and men gnash their teeth. The count is fully accustomed to this reaction and brilliant at exploiting it. What he isn't prepared for is Leila Beaumont. One look from her tawny eyes is dangerously captivating. How ... troublesome. Esmond can't afford the distraction of an entanglement, however passionate it promises to be. He's supposed to be working --- for the government! --- and his employers want Leila's corrupt and treacherous husband brought to justice. When the spouse, unsurprisingly and conveniently, gets himself murdered, all Esmond has to do is clear Leila of suspicion and proceed to the next assignment. But not being hanged for her husband's murder isn't enough for Leila. She wants to learn the truth --- all of it --- from Esmond, a man who's been lying all his life.

30 review for Captives of the Night

  1. 5 out of 5

    Azet

    This is my second book by the famous author Loretta Chase, which i read after the classical romance Lord of Scoundrels that had become one of my favourite historical romantic novels ever.However, "Captives of the Night" also managed to steal my breath and heart...and how i LOVED it! *** It was that word which tangled his brain and tongue, which opened the rift in his proud, well-guarded heart, leaving a place that ached, needing tending. Needy, he could only ask, like a foolish, besotted boy, "Do This is my second book by the famous author Loretta Chase, which i read after the classical romance Lord of Scoundrels that had become one of my favourite historical romantic novels ever.However, "Captives of the Night" also managed to steal my breath and heart...and how i LOVED it! *** It was that word which tangled his brain and tongue, which opened the rift in his proud, well-guarded heart, leaving a place that ached, needing tending. Needy, he could only ask, like a foolish, besotted boy, "Do you love me, Leila?" "If you can call anything so monstrous love. I'll be damned if I know what else to call it." She snatched up her hairbrush. "But names don't signify, do they? I don't even know yours. There's the hell of it," she said, dragging the brush through her thick, tangled hair. "That I should care for and want the respect of a man who's utterly false." -Leila & Esmond *** This one was a ride i will never forget,it`s mysterious plot,dark energy,unique characters and mindblowing romance captured my mind..and my heart.It litearlly made me lose sleep in one night. I remember Comte dÈsmond being mentioned in "Lord of Scoundrels" but i haven`t read the first book in the series,and that`s why i didn`t know that the hero in this one,Esmond,had been the villain in the first book.Comte d`Esmond is described as a inhumane beautiful man. Enchanting like an lighting Angel with the irresistible bewitching character of a dark Devil,both women and men became aware of his startling beauty.I just loved this man!I love that he believed in Allah and was from Albania.His mind and soul ran deeper than anyone else.He is smart as he can get,masterfully manipulative and darkly seducing, he was a man who was the master in a world full of danger,murder and despair...that is until he meets the golden gaze of the beautiful talanted painter Leila Beaumont.I just LOVE every scene with them together.It was full of sensuality and their chemistry was out of this world sexy!Their past was seared together and i wondered how the outcome would be,and what a scene that was!I just love how they worked together,how they loved,cared and how their whole world become each other.Loretta Chase did a great job with this novel,and i certainly will read more of her work in the future.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ursula

    Oh, I love this story. And Kate Reading just brought the characters to life. Esmond/Ismael- what a guy. Complex, difficult, flawed, manipulative and desperately lonely. An exile from his beloved homeland and a man still paying for the sins of an impetuous youth. Brainwashed by an ambitious mother to believe he could be another Alexander the Great, he overreaches himself, causing havoc in the lives of many people, most importantly in the life of Leila. Leila is also a fascinating character, a pas Oh, I love this story. And Kate Reading just brought the characters to life. Esmond/Ismael- what a guy. Complex, difficult, flawed, manipulative and desperately lonely. An exile from his beloved homeland and a man still paying for the sins of an impetuous youth. Brainwashed by an ambitious mother to believe he could be another Alexander the Great, he overreaches himself, causing havoc in the lives of many people, most importantly in the life of Leila. Leila is also a fascinating character, a passionate artist struggling with self-loathing after she finds out her father was a criminal and a traitor. Married to a debauched and ultimately evil man, she manages to rise above this and becomes a strong, principled young woman. And boy, do those two clash! Their story is an interesting and angst-filled roller coaster, so that their HEA feels completely deserved. Chase writes some beautiful, emotionally charged scenes and Kate Reading makes them just perfect. The accents, the passion, the fury and despair, all of it had me captivated, if you'll pardon the pun :) Unusually, I will probably listen to this again some time, just so I can close my eyes and imagine Ismael standing there talking to me! Sigh!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julianna

    Reviewed for www.thcreviews.com "2.5 stars" I first read Loretta Chase's fabulous book, Lord of Scoundrels, over a year ago, and the book, as well as it's hero and heroine, still remain among my top 10 favorites today. I discovered, after reading Lord of Scoundrels, that it was part of a series, and there were two books which came before it. Having loved it so much, I was quite anxious to check out those other books, but I have to say that by comparison both have greatly disappointed me. While I Reviewed for www.thcreviews.com "2.5 stars" I first read Loretta Chase's fabulous book, Lord of Scoundrels, over a year ago, and the book, as well as it's hero and heroine, still remain among my top 10 favorites today. I discovered, after reading Lord of Scoundrels, that it was part of a series, and there were two books which came before it. Having loved it so much, I was quite anxious to check out those other books, but I have to say that by comparison both have greatly disappointed me. While I did see a few faint glimmers of the writing style from Lord of Scoundrels, neither book, and Captives of the Night in particular, lived up to it's superior standard in my opinion. In fact there were times that I found it difficult to believe that the same author had written both books. I found Captives of the Night to be very heavy on the mystery element of the story to the point of overshadowing the romance, and in the end, neither aspect ever really grabbed my attention. To me, the book was very dry and lackluster, with no action to speak of at all. From my perspective, it mainly consisted of rather dull conversations, social interactions, and some character introspection. The first 2/3 of the book seemed to move at a snail's pace, and although the last 1/3 picked up a little, it was not enough to be really compelling. Overall, I'm afraid it was very much a let down for me. As I already mentioned, neither the mystery nor the romance really struck a chord with me. In most of the mystery stories I have read, the author usually creates a line-up of potential suspects right from the start, dropping clues and hints of possible motives along the way, and making the reader think that each one may be the culprit. In Captives of the Night, the heroine is the first one to be suspected of her husband's murder, but of course we know that she cannot be the guilty party. As for who might be, the implication is made that nearly everyone in London hated him and may have had a motive. From there, each of the suspects were basically introduced individually, and thoroughly vetted by the hero and heroine's investigative skills to the point that I no longer took any of them seriously as the potential killer. This gave the feel of a very tedious 19th century procedural examination of a murder case that held little interest for me. It was probably very close to the reality of criminal investigation, even in the present day, but in my opinion, did not make for very compelling storytelling. I really prefer when the author of a mystery leaves a trail of breadcrumbs for me to follow, so that I can attempt to figure out the bad guy for myself. In Captives of the Night, each little piece of the puzzle is laid out far too neatly, giving me virtually nothing about which to speculate. Admittedly, the real murderer was the person I least expected, so in that way I suppose it was somewhat well done. However, the reveal ended up being pretty anti-climactic. In addition, the romance aspect of the story fell completely flat for me. Except for one or two extremely brief moments, I felt no real emotion or true spark of passion between Ismal and Leila, not even any palpable sexual tension. I was simply never able to fully grasp what each of them was attracted to in the other, except that they seemed like two peas in a pod with rather similar personalities, perhaps too similar. They ended up arguing and vying for superiority almost constantly, which made their supposedly loving relationship very unbelievable to me. I'm sure it didn't help matters, that I was not able to truly like either Ismal or Leila. Ismal had been the villain of the previous book, The Lion's Daughter, in which he had done some very bad things, including trying to overthrow his cousin, the leader of Albania (although he was a very distasteful character himself) and completely obsessing over the heroine of that story to the point of kidnapping and threatening to rape her. I knew that Ms. Chase was going to have to do something pretty spectacular to believably redeem Ismal in my eyes, and unfortunately, I didn't feel that she fully succeeded. She went more for the karma approach, with Ismal having repaid his “debt” both monetarily and in service to the British crown for the past ten years, but I would have preferred some good old-fashioned remorse and groveling. As it was written, it seemed like all the characters from The Lion's Daughter who appeared in Captives of the Night, had casually forgiven him and gone their merry way almost as though nothing had ever happened. Because of my knowledge of his misdeeds in the previous book, I personally was never able to fully buy into the notion of Ismal as the hero. Regrettably, Leila wasn't much easier for me to understand. I did have a little sympathy for her over her first husband's horrendous behavior, as well as his making fun of her passionate nature. I also enjoyed the couple of brief moments when she was playing the consummate seductress, and it was nice that she had cunning sleuthing skills equal to Ismal's. Otherwise though, Leila just wasn't very relatable to me. She frequently acted like a spoiled, temperamental, and generally unpleasant woman who was given to throwing tantrums. I can certainly enjoy a good spitfire heroine, but when they behave like Leila sometimes did, they just become gratingly annoying to me. Neither Ismal nor Leila ever showed any emotional vulnerability, which in my opinion, only served to make them seem like two very cold and unfeeling individuals. Even the secondary characters were pretty one-dimensional. The only one I was able to connect with was Avory, a young man who was acquainted with Leila's husband and had been vulnerable to his manipulations. All he really wanted was to seek the hand of his one true love, but unfortunately, that unsavory association had caused nearly everyone to mistrust him. Ultimately though, Avory played such a small role in the story, he was never able to add much depth to it. As for the other characters, I didn't really have much respect for any of them. Everyone in the book, including Ismal and Leila, appeared to be moral relativists. No one was truly good or bad, not even the wretched deceased husband. All immoral behavior was brushed off in a far too casual and accepting way, with nearly everyone making excuses for everyone else. I believe that there are often shades of gray in life, but that there are also things which are simply black and white, right and wrong. Having the entire story be nothing but shades of gray absolutely drove me to distraction. While I didn't have to completely force myself to read the entire book like I have with a few others in the past, I did have to take a few breaks to read something else for a while. I'm sure that there are other readers who would enjoy this novel far more than I did, but I personally would not recommend it for anyone except perhaps, hard-core fans of Loretta Chase. Captives of the Night is the second book in what I have sometimes seen called the Scoundrels series. The first book is The Lion's Daughter, and the ties between it and Captives of the Night are pretty significant. As I mentioned earlier, Ismal was the villain of that book and played a major role in the story. There is also a secondary character, Lady Brentmor, who has a fairly important part in both books. The third book in the series is Lord of Scoundrels, but the ties between it and Captives of the Night are extremely minimal, which would explain why I was able to read Lord of Scoundrels without really feeling like anything was missing. Ismal aka Comte d'Esmond made a very brief appearance in Lord of Scoundrels at the Vingt-Huit pleasure palace in Paris where Dain, the hero of that book, was engaging in debauchery with his friends. These two stories essentially take place simultaneously. Although I have some serious reservations at this point, I will in all likelihood read the final book, The Last Hellion, at some point just for the sake of completeness.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chitra *CJ*

    "Captives of the Night" is the story of Leila and Esmond/Ismal. We meet the extremely handsome and secretive Ismal from the last book, now going by Comte d'Esmond, and still able to charm any woman he comes across. But who catches his eye is the elusive artist Leila Beaumont, who is married to a known philanderer and cheat Francis Beaumont. When her corrupt and treacherous husband is mysteriously killed, and Leila is almost a suspect, Ismal does everything in her arsenal to save her. They soon en "Captives of the Night" is the story of Leila and Esmond/Ismal. We meet the extremely handsome and secretive Ismal from the last book, now going by Comte d'Esmond, and still able to charm any woman he comes across. But who catches his eye is the elusive artist Leila Beaumont, who is married to a known philanderer and cheat Francis Beaumont. When her corrupt and treacherous husband is mysteriously killed, and Leila is almost a suspect, Ismal does everything in her arsenal to save her. They soon end up working together to catch a killer, falling in love, discovering harsh truths and long buried secrets, making sweet love and having a final happy ending. This is one of the rare books where I found the first half more intriguing than the second. The heroine's troubled relationship with her husband is explored, and I'm glad the author didn't go the obvious "abusive ex" way. Instead, we have flawed characters in a futile marriage, and things become more clear as the story progresses. The hero too has changed since the last book, but it doesn't take much for him to be enticed by the smart heroine. Good mystery element, loads of thrilling chase and a HEA. SWE 3.5/5

  5. 5 out of 5

    KatieV

    Hard to rate. This was well written, but didn't work so well as a romance for me. Also the timeline is a bit confusing. I read books 2-3 first and the heroine's nasty dead husband was alive and causing trouble. The book seemed to mostly take place shortly after the end of book 4. A lot of this was like a 19th century procedural detective story. If that's your thing, you may find this more interesting. Overall, I didn't much feel the romance. It is hard to take a villain from a prior book and make Hard to rate. This was well written, but didn't work so well as a romance for me. Also the timeline is a bit confusing. I read books 2-3 first and the heroine's nasty dead husband was alive and causing trouble. The book seemed to mostly take place shortly after the end of book 4. A lot of this was like a 19th century procedural detective story. If that's your thing, you may find this more interesting. Overall, I didn't much feel the romance. It is hard to take a villain from a prior book and make him the hero. I like it when done well. I do think Ismal was redeemable and considering his shenanigans in book 1, Chase had her work cut out for her. It's not that I think she did a bad job with it, I just missed the wit and charm that made books 3&4 so enjoyable. The only glimmer of that here was the appearance of Esme's cantankerous old grandmother, Lady Edenmont, from book 1. I do get a kick out of her. Re: the audio, Kate Reading was excellent as always.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Caz

    I've given this an A+ for narration and A- for content at AudioGals. For those of us who are fans of historical romance audios, Loretta Chase’s name has long been at the top of the list of “authors whose books we’d like to see in audio format”. In 2014, our long wait was amply rewarded, with Ms Chase’s Dressmaker books, the ever popular Lord of Scoundrelsand a handful of her earlier Regencies all coming to audio. We also got a couple of early Christmas presents in the form of The Lion's Daughter I've given this an A+ for narration and A- for content at AudioGals. For those of us who are fans of historical romance audios, Loretta Chase’s name has long been at the top of the list of “authors whose books we’d like to see in audio format”. In 2014, our long wait was amply rewarded, with Ms Chase’s Dressmaker books, the ever popular Lord of Scoundrelsand a handful of her earlier Regencies all coming to audio. We also got a couple of early Christmas presents in the form of The Lion's Daughter and Captives of the Night, both of those narrated by the always excellent Kate Reading, whose wonderful recording of Lord of Scoundrels has quickly become one of my all-time favourite audiobooks. Captives of the Night is the sequel to The Lion's Daughter, and in it, Ms Chase skilfully and memorably redeems the villain of the earlier book and turns him into a sexy, enigmatic and supremely capable hero – and a villain-turned-hero is like catnip for yours truly! You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bj

    Rating is for the story. The narration by Kate Reading is 5-stars. Overall this was a decent story, with an emphasis on suspense, but a little drawn out. That said, my expectations may have been overly high given that I thought Lord of Scoundrels was one of the best HRs I've ever listened to. Unfortunately, I just didn't feel the connection between the hero and heroine here in the same way. Still a worthy listen though, especially given the fantastic narration, if you can go into it with an open Rating is for the story. The narration by Kate Reading is 5-stars. Overall this was a decent story, with an emphasis on suspense, but a little drawn out. That said, my expectations may have been overly high given that I thought Lord of Scoundrels was one of the best HRs I've ever listened to. Unfortunately, I just didn't feel the connection between the hero and heroine here in the same way. Still a worthy listen though, especially given the fantastic narration, if you can go into it with an open mind.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lady Wesley

    Kate Reading does her usual excellent job with this second volume of the Scoundrels series. Thoroughly enjoyable!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Katie(babs)

    Loretta Chase is an incredible writer and with Captives of the Night, she writes a near perfect book. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical romance with mystery, suspense and passion from a hero for a woman who becomes his soul, or so he believes- this book is for you. Captives is the sequel to The Lion's Daughter where Comte d' Esmond (Ismal is his real name) was the villain of that story and now he is the hero and after ten years he is back with a vengeance but on the right side of Loretta Chase is an incredible writer and with Captives of the Night, she writes a near perfect book. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys historical romance with mystery, suspense and passion from a hero for a woman who becomes his soul, or so he believes- this book is for you. Captives is the sequel to The Lion's Daughter where Comte d' Esmond (Ismal is his real name) was the villain of that story and now he is the hero and after ten years he is back with a vengeance but on the right side of the law. He is undercover trying to stop a man who was even more devious than he was. Francis Beaumont is the true villain of the piece but soon is murdered. He leaves behind a widow- Leila who is an artist and becomes the new obsession of Esmond. Leila is an interesting woman and one that has been though so much heartache. Her husband treated her horribly, even though he saved her after the murder of her own father and allowed her talents to shown through. But Francis had demons and horrible secrets that Leila comes to find out with the help of Esmond who may have been responsible for her father's death over 10 years ago. They become partners and investigate nasty dead hubby's murder and soon their passions for each other collide. Leila and Esmond were written in such a way that was mind boggling. Chase's creative skills are top notch here and when they these two characters finally come together to show their love for each other, well it is everything any romance fan would want between their hero and heroine. This honestly is one of Chase's best works and her hero Esmond is so unique and overall seductive in his talk and actions that Leila had no chance. When she finally surrenders, she does so willingly and those scenes are beyond hot! A definite winner and a keeper for anyone's bookshelf.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Davis

    Who wrote this dreck? Not LC. Couldn't be. I suffered through almost all of this, the only L. Chase novel I've sincerely detested. The heroine is too embittered by her past and her opium-eating pig of a husband to allow the hero close; the preternaturally beautiful hero, a reformed evil pig himself, is enslaved by her cold aloofness and has a guilty secret about his part in ruining her life, which naturally threatens to make their love impossible. Where are LC's flawed but likable hero and admirab Who wrote this dreck? Not LC. Couldn't be. I suffered through almost all of this, the only L. Chase novel I've sincerely detested. The heroine is too embittered by her past and her opium-eating pig of a husband to allow the hero close; the preternaturally beautiful hero, a reformed evil pig himself, is enslaved by her cold aloofness and has a guilty secret about his part in ruining her life, which naturally threatens to make their love impossible. Where are LC's flawed but likable hero and admirable heroine? Where is LC's quicksilver wit and spot-on prose? If Leila weren't such an unrelieved bitch, I might've given a shit what happened to her and might've wondered if they eventually worked it out. But she was and I didn't. If the Comte hadn't been incomprehensibly enamored with the unpleasant bitch, I might've enjoyed the budding romance. But he was and there wasn't any. She's all surly, aloof resistance and he's all courtly, guilty devotion. Got old fast yet I got to the last 70 pp before my gag reflex kicked in. At least the pig of a husband gets his just deserts. I assume they sorted things out, but I will never find out. Just don't care.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Anachronist

    Why I read this? Why I have to explain myself? Well, ok, I just feel like explaining… Every time I read a romance book I think I need to explain…oh well…maybe because a romance, historical, paranormal or contemporary, is not exactly my favourite genre. I read this novel only because it was recommended to me - otherwise I wouldn't touch it for sure . Apparently this is part 2 in the 4 book series. Here are the titles of other parts: The Lion's Daughter (01, out of print), Lord of Scoundrels (03), Why I read this? Why I have to explain myself? Well, ok, I just feel like explaining… Every time I read a romance book I think I need to explain…oh well…maybe because a romance, historical, paranormal or contemporary, is not exactly my favourite genre. I read this novel only because it was recommended to me - otherwise I wouldn't touch it for sure . Apparently this is part 2 in the 4 book series. Here are the titles of other parts: The Lion's Daughter (01, out of print), Lord of Scoundrels (03), The Last Hellion (04). Here you go. Let's get back to the review. Synopsis: After a visit of three strangers in their nice Venice apartment 17-year old Leila Bridgeburton finds herself all of a sudden a penniless orphan as the body of her dear papa is floating in one of the canals. She is just one step away from being thrown out on the streets and facing a very bleak future. Fortunately a prince charming in the person of a young, handsome Francis Beaumont rescues her. Instantly smitten with his young charge, he seduces Leila first and then, very chivalrously, marries her (my hero!). They move to Paris where Leila studies painting and leads a relatively comfortable life. End of the story? Nah. Just a beginning. About six years later Francis's hedonistic lifestyle and complete lack of common sense have aged him significantly, weakening his body and garnering him legions of enemies, his wife among them. Leila, now a talented portrait painter, finds herself utterly disgusted with her savior. Francis’s primary function is to act as a buffer against the many men interested in pursuing her but Leila becomes more and more outraged when her husband openly entertains whores in their house and takes drugs. They quarrel a lot. Of course he claims that, somehow, it is still her fault. However, when he turns up so conveniently dead in their London house, it's Leila who has to face murder charges. The investigation is led by Comte d'Esmond, a man of many talents who not only moves easily within the highest levels of society but has also spent the past ten years as one of the government's most trusted and discreet covert operatives. Because of his skillful maneuvering she is acquitted but she must help a quiet investigation, initiated by government officials. They fear the fallout from Francis's numerous blackmail and extortion schemes which were financing his bad habits - they could do irreversible damage to the ranks of careless statesmen and aristocrats alike. The investigation promises to be lengthy and tedious. Neither Leila nor Esmond are particularly happy about his involvement in the case, as their relationship, since he orchestrated a meeting in Paris the year before, has been a tug-of-war between attraction and resistance. Esmond is a man with a dark and treacherous past, Leila has been gravely disappointed by her late husband. However, she knows she must find the culprit and clear her name if she wants to pursue her artistic career. Not to mention the fact that the murderer might be after her as well. Will they find who murdered Francis and for what reasons? What else will they discover during that process? What I liked: This book was 70% mystery and 30% romance – that’s why I think I appreciated it more than an average romantic novel. We get here a mysterious death puzzle with plenty of viable and interesting suspects and secondary characters, two fascinating protagonists, a complex interrelationship and an escalating emotional and sexual tension (yes, in this exact order, not the other way round). I found it very well executed, not unlike plots in books of my favourite romance writer, Courtney Milan. When it comes to the seduction – it was really realistic. The whole situation could be described shortly this way: "the husband lusts after d'Esmond, who's after the wife, who only wants to be left alone to paint but somehow couldn’t get d’Esmond out of her head for a reason or two". A romantic triangle? Hardly. Most of it takes part after the demise of dear Francis and very rightly so, that man was up to no good. Now some more about the mystery, revolving around Francis’ killer, and the main characters, trying to solve the said mystery. The criminal puzzle, which takes up much more space than the romantic thread, is clever. Francis, a great baddie, was a real deviant who loved blackmailing people and made them dance to his own tune. He had so many enemies you are rather spoiled for choice. Reading about his exploits and strategies you start to admire his wife. You see, Leila is one of these heroines who develop before the eyes of the reader. Soon she becomes so much stronger and savvy that the frightened, drugged young girl, introduced at the very beginning. She is nicely rounded, has a depth and passion. She did love her husband at first but she couldn’t save him from his own demons. What’s more, she is so clearly Esmond's match, both of body and mind, that their inevitability as a couple with a satisfying HEA stretching out before them, became a given for me from almost the start. Both of them have scars and wounds to heal. Neither character wallows in their misfortune. The Comte is decidedly not as serene as he appears on the surface. Leila Beaumont has been emotionally damaged by her husband and can't trust men at all – as soon as she realizes how many secrets the Comte is keeping she knows she can't trust him either. And yet they have to work together and she slowly begins to unpick his story and find out more about him, much against his will. I was rather afraid, reading about the Big Misunderstanding that was trailed from about a third of the book, a bit silly plot device which is very often used and abused in such novels. Fortunately the author did something rather better with this than you would usually expect in this kind of fictional narration. What I didn’t like: First let me tell you that I am simply puzzled by the cover art, presented above. We see a man with a very modern haircut peeping through some bed hangings or curtains; he's got a definite five o'clock shadow and completely hairless arms (waxed? shaved? both?). He certainly doesn't look like an Albanian masquerading as a French Count in 1829, who is described as having slightly overlong blonde hair and amazingly sapphire blue eyes. He also doesn’t look like Francis Beaumont – his face is far too young and too fresh, without any those tell-tale symptoms of drug abuse. I really don’t understand who he is and what he is doing here - it seems as if the book got a cover from another story. Speaking about Albanians - I didn’t read the first part of this series so I might not know all the facts but it simply galled me that the omniscient narrator several times referred to Count d’Esmond as a ‘barbarian’ or wrote about his 'barbarian half'. It seems she did so to emphasize the fact that the man came from a very wild and exotic country, apparently full of man-eaters, dragons, vampires and such. I found it rather unjust. If it was said by other characters I would understand - at that time British people treated everything non-British as simply 'barbarian'. However, it was stated by that wretched omniscient narrator...and she should have known better. For example Francis was never called a barbarian because he was a British citizen who lived many years in Paris. It didn’t matter that he was clearly a sadist and a drug fiend, it didn’t matter that he loved to blackmail his victims and was not above exploiting them psychologically and sexually…but he was not a barbarian, he was British…hmmm… Final verdict: This one really exceeded my expectations in a very positive way. I caught myself several times thinking 'it is really good! how come it is so good?' If you feel like reading a romance novel I highly recommend this one. You can always make a nice dust jacket out of a newspaper sheet and hide that stupid man on the cover.

  12. 4 out of 5

    T. Rosado

    3.75 Stars I read Captives of the Night after Lord of Scoundrels which chronologically occurs before this one, but was published after. Got that? Lord of Scoundrels was a 4.5 Star read, for me. I thought it had a unique voice, premise, and it was fun, even if a little over the top at times. That’s pretty much how I felt with this book, as well. Like LoS, there were many things going on with numerous characters and a little extra attention needed to be used while reading. It was also entertaining 3.75 Stars I read Captives of the Night after Lord of Scoundrels which chronologically occurs before this one, but was published after. Got that? Lord of Scoundrels was a 4.5 Star read, for me. I thought it had a unique voice, premise, and it was fun, even if a little over the top at times. That’s pretty much how I felt with this book, as well. Like LoS, there were many things going on with numerous characters and a little extra attention needed to be used while reading. It was also entertaining with an original plot and a strong, independent heroine. The hero Esmond/Ismal had a unique back story and I finally discovered how he's actually the connection to book #1 (The Lion's Daughter.) Overall, I found that both books are kind of odd, but in a way that makes them unique and fun to read. Although I may not love it as much as LoS, I was truly entertained by Captives of the Night. My thoughts are, if you enjoyed Lord of Scoundrels, your apt to enjoy this book. And vice versa.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Wendy

    I absolutely LOVED the audio version of CAPTIVES OF THE NIGHT, narrated by the highly talented Kate Reading...IMO the female version of Nicholas Boulton in terms of voice acting, versatility and consummate skill in portraying both male and female characters alike. Listening to her is pure entertainment and sheer enjoyment and delight, what more can we ask for? I wish I had not listened out of sequence as I would loved to have known the Comte d'Esmond/Ismal Delvina as the villain of THE LION'S DAU I absolutely LOVED the audio version of CAPTIVES OF THE NIGHT, narrated by the highly talented Kate Reading...IMO the female version of Nicholas Boulton in terms of voice acting, versatility and consummate skill in portraying both male and female characters alike. Listening to her is pure entertainment and sheer enjoyment and delight, what more can we ask for? I wish I had not listened out of sequence as I would loved to have known the Comte d'Esmond/Ismal Delvina as the villain of THE LION'S DAUGHTER, before he becomes the hero of this novel, and he certainly redeems himself. Of course his previous, youthful, misdemeanours and crimes become known as his love for Leila Beaumont develops, and he is utterly delicious....who doesn't like to see the bad boy come good? So intent was I after the rave reviews of LORD OF SCOUNDRELS, which I read and then listened to with the fab Kate Reading in the driving seat, that I wanted more, and didn't check it out properly, seeing only the two names who had sparked my interest. In that novel/audio, Leila Beaumont and her dissolute husband Francis Beaumont fascinated me, also it was apparent in that story too, that Esmond was intrigued by the beautiful, aloof,and highly talented artist Leila. And also that there would be a story for them waiting to be told. I was only a little disappointed that Dain and Jessica did not make an appearance. After the death of her husband under suspicious circumstances, Leila becomes an amateur sleuth with Esmond as her partner. He has atoned for his past crimes and has worked under cover for the past ten years, for the British Government, Leila insists on being kept informed, and indeed on being proactive in the search for her husband's killer, not for any love of him, more because she simply wants to know who perpetrated the crime and also of course, because there is a killer on the loose, and who knows who will be next? Esmond is reluctantly coerced into aiding her in her quest, the Government would far rather leave the outcome of the inquest into Beaumont's death as accidental, he was after all, a waste of space, a drink and drug addict and a sexual deviant, but Leila is intent on her course. And so the two are thrown together frequently, and the inevitable, extremely sensual, slowly simmering attraction between the two develops, and the air positively crackles. Kate Reading's portrayal of the hot headed Leila is genius, there is no doubt of Leila's artistic temperament which fairly sizzles, flying objects, temper tantrums her haphazard, loosely piled hair, falling out of its topknot, conjures up the beautiful, temperamental artist. Esmond as the impossibly handsome and enigmatic French Comte is a husky voiced...come to my bed....delight! When he finally confesses his Albanian roots and past and becomes, to Leila, at least in private, Ismal...phew! Kate Reading subtly changes the accent but not the voice, very impressive. The plot is intricate and clever, the uncovering of it interesting and ingenious. All the strands are eventually pulled together and it becomes apparent that Leila and Ismal/Esmond are inextricably linked and have been, almost fatally, without either realising it for many years. This is romance and mystery in equal parts and I absolutely loved it. Loretta Chase and Kate Reading are to my mind as much of a dream team as Laura Kinsale and Nicholas Boulton. I will certainly not hesitate in downloading anything this talented pair have collaborated on. An absolute 5 star audio listen.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shabby Girl ~ aka Lady Victoria

    Mmm, I'm absolutely stumped. I do not know if I even liked this book. There's a first. I'm not sure if I liked the heroine. I think I liked the hero. The mystery was good, that's for sure. I'm pretty sure I'm not as smart as I think I am because I did actually have trouble keeping up with the twists and turns of it. Interesting book. Mmm, I'm absolutely stumped. I do not know if I even liked this book. There's a first. I'm not sure if I liked the heroine. I think I liked the hero. The mystery was good, that's for sure. I'm pretty sure I'm not as smart as I think I am because I did actually have trouble keeping up with the twists and turns of it. Interesting book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    I had to leave some time between reading The Lion's Daughter and reading this so the memory of Ismal's arseholery could dilute itself in my mind. My sensibilities are too delicate to appreciate a reformed anti-hero. Now I've read this I wish I hadn't done that, because it took away all the emotion I'd ever feel towards Ismal. I just didn't care about he and Leila, charismatic though they were. What a mystery, right, because Chase does everything right: there's wit, charm, the pull of desire. So I had to leave some time between reading The Lion's Daughter and reading this so the memory of Ismal's arseholery could dilute itself in my mind. My sensibilities are too delicate to appreciate a reformed anti-hero. Now I've read this I wish I hadn't done that, because it took away all the emotion I'd ever feel towards Ismal. I just didn't care about he and Leila, charismatic though they were. What a mystery, right, because Chase does everything right: there's wit, charm, the pull of desire. So why must I be such a party pooper and come out in dislike over this? Really the fault is in the romance, which is just not my kind of thing. All things considered Ismal and Leila fall in love quite easily; obviously they have emotional barriers to overcome, but it's a smooth journey nevertheless. Leila is hopelessly attracted to Ismal but denies it for over half the book. Then when she finally gives in she's really all the way in. Ismal wants Leila from the moment he sees her and pursues her until she surrenders. For me, I like a bit of instant hatred followed by confusion followed by denial, ignorance, anger, complications, love, with constant sniping at each other. That isn't to say there aren't excellent dialogue exchanges in this:"I wish you would not take that condescending tone with me," she said. "It's not as though you're in a perfect equable humour yourself." "How do you expect a man to remain tranquil when you snap at his every word and storm about the room? How am I to be orderly and logical amid the tempest you make? Almost, I think you do it on purpose." "On purpose?" Her voice climbed. "Just what — " "To distract me." His tone was dangerously low. "To make trouble. Is that what you wish? I can oblige, you know."But the overall frame of the romance is very straightforward. Everything else though was brilliant and well worthy of Chase. Heroines in romance novels are either gorgeous or ordinary with one particularly gorgeous feature that in the eyes of the hero, makes them outshine everyone else. I get tired of hearing about the heroine's effect on every man who is not a eunuch — there is nothing more irritating than repeatedly hearing how attractive someone is without being able to judge for yourself. But Loretta Chase is not some amateur writing 'she easily drew every eye in the room with her beauty and carriage'. Instead:He looked to the door just as Leila Beaumont entered, shrouded in black, like the night. She strode down the narrow aisle between the benches, her grown rustling in the stunned silence. When she reached her place, she threw back her veil, swept the assembled onlookers one insolent glance, then fixed the coroner with a look that should have incinerated him. About Ismal, males of assorted degrees, high and low, began to breathe again. Even he had been struck breathless for a moment.I love this moment. Instead of pointing immediately to their breathlessness, Chase leaves a gap and only in the next sentence connects Lelia to the lack of air in the room. Textually only Ismal is 'struck breathless', which bridges an intimacy between he and Leila despite being in a crowded room. The forcefulness of 'struck' further ties it to Leila, though Ismal doesn't mention outright her in that sentence. In conclusion, it's a brilliant and subtle gem of writing. The mystery was quite intense and weirdly dealt with: I'm pretty sure they approached it in the most roundabout way possible and could've solved it in half the time if they'd been more logical (though obviously, the point is that they can't keep their heads around each other). Whenever they got tired of working on the case they made out, which I guess was fine for them but made for a jolting experience for me. This clearly isn't the best Loretta Chase has ever done (I remain steadfast in my declaration that Lord Perfect is the greatest HR of all time) but she definitely doesn't let herself down. And now I'm beyond excited to read Lord of Scoundrels, which everyone and their mother has been telling me to read for years.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Spencer

    4.5 starsThis one sagged a little in the middle for me, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. The hero and heroine are both interesting and somewhat unusual characters. Leila Beaumont's art and her husband's wild living brought them into contact with aristocratic society, but she is not titled herself. The Comte d'Esmond may claim a title, but with non-English background and shadowy past, he's not much like the usual dukes frequenting modern European historicals either. I found Leila and Esmond bot 4.5 starsThis one sagged a little in the middle for me, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. The hero and heroine are both interesting and somewhat unusual characters. Leila Beaumont's art and her husband's wild living brought them into contact with aristocratic society, but she is not titled herself. The Comte d'Esmond may claim a title, but with non-English background and shadowy past, he's not much like the usual dukes frequenting modern European historicals either. I found Leila and Esmond both intelligent and entertaining to watch together as they fall in love while working their way through a rather intricate mystery. As I mentioned, the middle sags a bit, but the book still works far more than it doesn't. And it's Loretta Chase, so the writing is more evocative than many. Since Esmond played the role of villain in one of Chase's previous books, I did find it interesting to see him cast as a hero 10 years later. For me, it worked. He's honorable, but also just dangerous enough that I could believe in a villainous past (or at least one full of seriously bad judgment.)

  17. 4 out of 5

    rameau

    This review can also be found on Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell-blog. If you've read the blurb you know that this is a romantic mystery where Leila Beaumont is trying to find out who killed her father almost a decade ago and who is responsible for the recent death of her husband. Of course, she can't help but be tempted by the spy assigned to help her, Comte d'Esmond. What you don't know is that Captives of the Night isn't a quite like any other romance novel I've ever read before. It's a historical a This review can also be found on Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell-blog. If you've read the blurb you know that this is a romantic mystery where Leila Beaumont is trying to find out who killed her father almost a decade ago and who is responsible for the recent death of her husband. Of course, she can't help but be tempted by the spy assigned to help her, Comte d'Esmond. What you don't know is that Captives of the Night isn't a quite like any other romance novel I've ever read before. It's a historical and it features a so called bad boy with a heart of gold, and those are things I love, but for a good part of the story the heroine spends married to someone other than the apparent love of her live. What's more curious, is that she freely admits having once loved her abusive and vile husband. It's a delightfully realistic take on two people finding each other and giving themselves a second chance in happiness. Not everyone finds and marries the love of their live at seventeen and spend the rest of their lives together. There's a slight problem, though. How does an author stop the heroine from becoming a contemptible doormat to an abusive husband while turning her into a possible adulteress and keep her relatable to an average romance reader? The answer is, she doesn't. At least, Chase didn't. She made the Leila Beaumont into a violent tempered shrew who can stand up to her morally corrupt husband and and whose tantrums lead to her being the suspect in her husband's murder. And that's how Chase handled the second part of her dilemma. Getting rid of an unwanted balls in chain (pun intended) was the only way for the true romance to move on. I call it a true romance because it isn't magically easy. Both Esmond and Leila fight their attraction for each other instead of giving into their insta-lust. The sex part still comes quite early for an historical novel, but at least it follows a decent seduction. I'd almost given up on the hope of reading scene something as innocuous as a good look at a man's hands can raise the temperature of the room. It shouldn't come as a huge surprise then that this book was written and originally published in the early 1990's. As much as I don't miss the euphemisms, I do miss the sensual seductions that used to precede outright sex in romantic fiction. I liked the fact that as imperfect and infuriating as both characters were, they were evenly matched. Their flaws and strengths complemented each other. Admittedly, Esmond had the advantage of his gender and the laws of the era to help him, but I also felt he was cunning enough to handle Leila when needed to, just as she was stubborn enough to demand the truth and trust he so reluctantly bestowed to anyone. All this I liked, the story, the writing, and I liked the mystery too, which managed to surprise me to a certain extent. Also, I'm valiantly ignoring all the bad, bad, words like female, core, and a host of others I've managed to forget since reading the book. So, why then, isn't my rating higher? I simply didn't like certain aspects of the book. Not only was I bored for the longest periods, I found myself baulking at how certain things were handled and how much attitudes have changed in twenty years. It has to do with the dead husband's vices and how those were described. I appreciate the historical accuracy of such attitudes, but I can't help but feel that another author writing today would have chosen his or her words differently especially when describing someone as tolerant as Comte d'Esmond talking or thinking about the matter.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Regan Walker

    A Captivating Story I bought all the romances in this loosely woven series before I read one of them. They include The Lion’s Daughter, set primarily in Albania, Captives of the Night, Lord of Scoundrels, and The Last Hellion. The last two are not so related as the first two. I found the writing to be inconsistent in these books and the stories vary considerably, some more interesting than others. Set in Paris and London, Captives is the story of Leila Beaumont, a brilliant artist, who, through a A Captivating Story I bought all the romances in this loosely woven series before I read one of them. They include The Lion’s Daughter, set primarily in Albania, Captives of the Night, Lord of Scoundrels, and The Last Hellion. The last two are not so related as the first two. I found the writing to be inconsistent in these books and the stories vary considerably, some more interesting than others. Set in Paris and London, Captives is the story of Leila Beaumont, a brilliant artist, who, through a series of events, is forced by circumstances to marry a degenerate, who actually loves her but is incapable by his own bad choices of being a good husband. She decides to shut him out of her bedroom when she is only 20 but she remains celibate and faithful. Meanwhile, her husband basically lives his separate debauched lifestyle. Now in her mid 20s, Leila comes to the attention of the handsome and sophisticated comte d’Esmond (who is the attractive villain Ismal from The Lion’s Daughter but with a new identity). They first meet in Paris and later, in London, where Leila and he are thrown together to solve a murder. The sexual tension is well done and runs high throughout. Both are interesting and attractive people and have much to bring to a relationship. There are secrets lingering from The Lion's Daughter so you'll want to plow through that before reading this one. (The secrets are interesting and worth discovering.) I recommend this book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laura (Kyahgirl)

    Although labeled as book 2 in the Scoundrels series, this book actually runs concurrently with books 3 and 4. I am glad I read those two first because it gave me a better understanding of the character of Francis Beaumont. While I liked this story better than book 1, it still wasn't anywhere near as good as Lord of Scoundrels and The Last Hellion. Kate Reading did a good job on the narration of this audio version. Although labeled as book 2 in the Scoundrels series, this book actually runs concurrently with books 3 and 4. I am glad I read those two first because it gave me a better understanding of the character of Francis Beaumont. While I liked this story better than book 1, it still wasn't anywhere near as good as Lord of Scoundrels and The Last Hellion. Kate Reading did a good job on the narration of this audio version.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Pamela Shropshire

    This! This is what I have been missing from today's historical romance. Leila is a strong, independent heroine, but one that inhabits the time period. Ismal is an equally strong hero, with a complex backstory. The story that both brings them together and keeps them temporarily apart is real; a complicated, interesting mystery into which their romance is skillfully entertwined. 4.5 stars! This! This is what I have been missing from today's historical romance. Leila is a strong, independent heroine, but one that inhabits the time period. Ismal is an equally strong hero, with a complex backstory. The story that both brings them together and keeps them temporarily apart is real; a complicated, interesting mystery into which their romance is skillfully entertwined. 4.5 stars!

  21. 5 out of 5

    D.G.

    Captives of the Night had one of the most disagreeable heroines I've had the misfortune to find in romance. I was at the brink of dnfing it many times but the mystery and the hero kept me reading on. Leila's husband has been murdered. Given that that her husband was a cruel and vicious character with a tendency for blackmailing, this wasn't a surprise. At the beginning, she's suspected of the crime, given that her and her husband haven't gotten along in years and in fact, everybody knows they don Captives of the Night had one of the most disagreeable heroines I've had the misfortune to find in romance. I was at the brink of dnfing it many times but the mystery and the hero kept me reading on. Leila's husband has been murdered. Given that that her husband was a cruel and vicious character with a tendency for blackmailing, this wasn't a surprise. At the beginning, she's suspected of the crime, given that her and her husband haven't gotten along in years and in fact, everybody knows they don't even sleep together. The Comte d'Esmond, an admirer of Leila's and secret government agent, is tasked with finding out the murderer. The mystery was the interesting part even if the murderer came out of left field. Even though the evil husband could have been killed by anybody under the sun, they conveniently focus on 5 people from their circle because "their instincts told them to" and don't seem to investigate anybody else. As I mentioned, I wasn't a fond of Leila. Her character didn't make sense whatsoever, a supposedly strong and sophisticated woman with a very provincial view of sex. She loves calling herself a "whore" because she likes sex even and browbeats herself for being attracted to Esmond. This would have made sense if she was very religious or sheltered but she's an artist living in Paris with access to all sorts of people and living with a very licentious husband. You would think she would put two and two together! She also has this very childish temper - she loves to destroy things - and thinks she knows better than everybody. I wanted to slap her silly. I really liked the Esmond's redemption and having a main character that wasn't European for a change. It made for an interesting read. This is one of those "series" that was cobbled up together for who knows what reasons because books 1 & 2 are very related but 3 & 4 aren't. In fact, you can start with #3 (which is the most loved book by this author) with the confidence of knowing that you don't have to read this book or the one preceding it because they have nothing to do whatsoever with it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Thenia

    The story of Leila Beaumont, unhappily married artist whose husband is murdered and she becomes the main suspect, and Comte D'Esmond, the investigator sent to solve the mystery of his death. Comte d'Esmont, aka Ismal, has been working as an agent for years, hoping to atone for his past misdeeds (including those of the previous book where he was the main villain). One of his missions was to dismantle Leila's husband's criminal empire and see him punished. The two of them are required to collaborate The story of Leila Beaumont, unhappily married artist whose husband is murdered and she becomes the main suspect, and Comte D'Esmond, the investigator sent to solve the mystery of his death. Comte d'Esmont, aka Ismal, has been working as an agent for years, hoping to atone for his past misdeeds (including those of the previous book where he was the main villain). One of his missions was to dismantle Leila's husband's criminal empire and see him punished. The two of them are required to collaborate on the investigation, something they both dislike, but that brings them close and makes it hard for them to resist the attraction between them. Friends and acquaintances are investigated, secrets are revealed and in the process they end up falling in love. I wasn't particularly invested in either their romance or the mystery, but everything wrapped up nicely with (view spoiler)[their five main suspects having been involved in a conspiracy to retrieve some letters he was blackmailing them with, while the person who murdered him was not even a suspect until the blackmail was discovered. The loyal lawyer who "took such good care of Leila", was actually the husband's partner years ago, when the two of them stole her inheritance (hide spoiler)] . I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Lord of Scoundrels, which is highly praised and rated. Previous book reviews: ✦ The Lion's Daughter (Scoundrels #1)

  23. 5 out of 5

    steph

    Another reviewer said this book was 70% mystery and 30% romance and I have to agree with that assessment. But it was still well done because I really didn't figure out who the true killer was until just about the same time the two main characters did which was nice. Oh, and to make me like Esmond, the villain I HATED in book #1, was no impossible feat but it was done. I'm glad ten years took place between this book and the previous one, it allowed for me to believe in Esmond/Ismal's redemption a Another reviewer said this book was 70% mystery and 30% romance and I have to agree with that assessment. But it was still well done because I really didn't figure out who the true killer was until just about the same time the two main characters did which was nice. Oh, and to make me like Esmond, the villain I HATED in book #1, was no impossible feat but it was done. I'm glad ten years took place between this book and the previous one, it allowed for me to believe in Esmond/Ismal's redemption and how the events set in motion in the first book came to a head in this one. Also, so glad we got to see Esme's formidable grandmother again. (Only thing I did not like about this book was: (view spoiler)[Leila thinking she was a whore because her husband could never please her and so to make himself feel better about his lack of sexual ability he told her unlike other ladies she was a wanton woman with an unseemly appetite for sex which made her believe that. And so when Esmond started to touch her and make her wants things with him she immediately flashbacked to what her husband said and stopped because her head and her body was confused. But, after the first time she slept with Esmond, she never brought it up again to him and I did not understand that. You think her feelings regarding that would have been even worse afterwards. Some discussion of her not being a wanton and it being her husband's fault would have been nice to see, I'm just saying) (hide spoiler)]

  24. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    What an amazing book! This is one of Loretta Chase's older books (released in 2006), the successor to "The Lion's Daughter," and the one preceding "Lord of Scoundrels." The Compte d'Esmond aka Ismal appeared in the first book as the villain of the piece. In "Captives of the Night," he is redeemed beautifully by Ms. Chase as the hero of this piece. This is a "who done it" mystery/romance which is slowly revealed, layer by layer, until the very end. The book wasn't what I had come to enjoy so much What an amazing book! This is one of Loretta Chase's older books (released in 2006), the successor to "The Lion's Daughter," and the one preceding "Lord of Scoundrels." The Compte d'Esmond aka Ismal appeared in the first book as the villain of the piece. In "Captives of the Night," he is redeemed beautifully by Ms. Chase as the hero of this piece. This is a "who done it" mystery/romance which is slowly revealed, layer by layer, until the very end. The book wasn't what I had come to enjoy so much from Ms. Chase's writing in recent years: quick wit, lightening fast responses, delightful repartee. However, the writing here may be a little different, but it did not detract whatsoever from the meat of the story, the interaction of the main characters or the intrigue. The writing is still brilliant, the characters are still endearing and the storyline still keeps you turning those pages eager to find out what happens next. Now, what can we do to get "The Lion's Daughter" (the first in this series) to be re-released? I want that one! :)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Quitting while ahead on this bad boy. Nothing to hold my interest. I don't feel like the H and h are that into each other. I don't really care who killed the husband. I don't really care about the main characters. Bummer, I like Loretta Chase. Just not this particular book. ...Also, HATE the cover model's spiky, highlighted hair. So wrong for so many reason, Quitting while ahead on this bad boy. Nothing to hold my interest. I don't feel like the H and h are that into each other. I don't really care who killed the husband. I don't really care about the main characters. Bummer, I like Loretta Chase. Just not this particular book. ...Also, HATE the cover model's spiky, highlighted hair. So wrong for so many reason,

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tasha

    My favorite Chase book ever! The Comte d'Esmond is srsly hawt. And the heroine is a painter in 19th-century France! Can you say right up my alley? My favorite Chase book ever! The Comte d'Esmond is srsly hawt. And the heroine is a painter in 19th-century France! Can you say right up my alley?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Keri

    It took me awhile to get into this, but once I did I really liked it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emy

    2/5 Stars ⭐️⭐️

  29. 4 out of 5

    Malin

    Leila Beaumont is a beautiful and very talented portrait artist, as celebrated throughout Europe as her husband, Francis, is becoming reviled. While Leila is aware of Francis adultery, his tendency to drink and take drugs to excess, she is unaware that he also ran a brothel in Paris and tended to make money through the blackmail of prominent members of society. While she hasn't allowed him in her bed for years, Leila is nonetheless grateful to Francis for rescuing her when she was orphaned in Ve Leila Beaumont is a beautiful and very talented portrait artist, as celebrated throughout Europe as her husband, Francis, is becoming reviled. While Leila is aware of Francis adultery, his tendency to drink and take drugs to excess, she is unaware that he also ran a brothel in Paris and tended to make money through the blackmail of prominent members of society. While she hasn't allowed him in her bed for years, Leila is nonetheless grateful to Francis for rescuing her when she was orphaned in Venice ten years ago, after her traitor father ran afoul of some people he betrayed. While Francis later seduced her, he also married her and made sure she got training with the best artists, allowing her to have the career she now thrives in. Their marriage is not a peaceful one, however, which is why Leila is the prime suspect when Francis turns up dead. Even Alexandre Delavenne, the Comte D'Esmond, initially believes that Leila murdered her husband. He first met and was enchanted with the beautiful artist in Paris, but while Francis normally cared little for all the men fawning over his wife, knowing that his constant digs at her and his own behaviour had pretty much put Leila off men entirely, he was extremely jealous about D'Esmond's attentions towards her. That this was because he himself also fancied the man, and was firmly rebuffed is not something Leila was aware of. She just knows that the very beautiful man made her uneasy in Paris and now again in London, when the world seems ready to call her a murderess. D'Esmond works for the Home Office, however, and orchestrates a beautiful show of an inquest, where there is left no doubt to anyone that Francis Beaumont died of an accidental overdose. Once the public's mind has been set at ease about Beaumont's death, D'Esmond's superiors at the Home Office nonetheless want to figure out who actually killed him, and set D'Esmond to investigate the crime. This means he and Leila have to spend a lot of time together, reluctantly fighting their growing attraction towards one another. D'Esmond may have been working for the Home Office as an agent for the last ten years, but there are dark deeds in his past, and he realises that some of them affected Leila indirectly. Even as he wants to seduce her and win her love, he is terrified that the intelligent and dangerously perceptive woman will figure out the secrets of his past, and how he may have been the person to set her on the path to her disastrous marriage to Francis in the first place. This book, while one of my all-time favourites, is probably not for everyone. There is too much of a mystery element to the story and the romance is probably the most angst-filled of all of Loretta Chase's books. The Comte D'Esmond is actually the villain in Chase's earlier novel, The Lion's Daughter, where as a ruthless Albanian prince, he not only tries to usurp his cousin, the Pasha, but becomes obsessed with the daughter of an English nobleman and chases her and the man she loves across Europe, intent on stealing her back. Ismal Delvina, as he was then, is stopped and nearly dies and takes up a career with the Home Office to atone for his sins, but he was not a nice individual and in his wild chase across Europe, he also stopped in Venice to demand money from Leila's father, who shortly afterwards ended up drowned in a canal. While he never saw Leila in person, he knew her father, Bridgeburton, had a child, and commanded his henchmen to drug her while they were doing business. Leila woke up groggy and disorientated in the carriage of Francis Beaumont, who claimed he had rescued her from burglars, breaking the news of her father's death to her. While Leila is completely unaware of this, once it's revealed to Ismal/D'Esmond that she is Bridgeburton's daughter, he is painfully conscious of the fact that his former actions led to her being in the clutches of Francis Beaumont, an innocent and sheltered girl, who was easily seduced by him and later shackled in marriage to him for the next decade. For all that she's not had a great marriage and is aware of many of her husband's flaws, Leila refuses to see herself as a victim and is grateful to her husband for making her the artist she now is. It takes her a long time to realise just how insidious and toxic his influence over her has been, and how many insecurities and hang-ups she harbours, all placed there carefully by her husband, to ensure that while she may not be allowing him into her bed, she certainly wasn't going to sleep with and experience pleasure with anyone else either. Leila is so strong and smart, yet so wounded and vulnerable and the process she has to go through in this book is rather painful to read about in parts. Ismal/D'Esmond has long since gotten over the woman he chased across Europe, who has been happily married for the last decade. Leila is probably the first woman to fascinate him as much, yet he is painfully aware at all times that the secrets he harbours will hurt her when they come to light. That she is frighteningly perceptive and sees things in him that others don't appear to doesn't help. He is in love with her long before he's able to finally break through the layers of conditioning that make her think sex is something rather repellent and allowed access into her bed. He knows that when she finds out the truth (and he has no illusions that she won't eventually figure things out), she will be deeply hurt and possibly ask him to leave her forever. Seriously, this is a really angsty book with very complex and wounded people. Once Ismal/D'Esmond finally manages to seduce Leila, we're about 70% into the book (although they seem to make up for lost time once they get started), so for much of the book there is just a fairly complicated and somewhat tiresome murder investigation (even the protagonists admit that this mystery is tedious), with the couple learing more about one another as they question and investigate others. Francis Beaumont is an absolutely odious individual, so there are MANY people with a will and motive to murder him. He was a master manipulator, and it takes Leila a long time to realise and deal with the ways he messed her up. Anyone looking for a light-hearted and amusing romp, would be much better off checking out Mr. Impossible or The Last Hellion, or reading something in Tessa Dare's Spindle Cove or Castles Ever After series. This is not an easy or comfortable book, but the romance feels so much more earned at the end because of it. It should also be pointed out, for those readers who are sick of "pregnancy epilogues" - Leila is barren and can't have children, and there is a frank and very touching discussion about adoption in the later half of the book. A final note - I listened to this in audio book this time around, and as with the other Loretta Chase historicals, it's narrated by the excellent Kate Reading. She is especially good at accents and the way she changes the voice and accent of D'Esmond/Ismal once he reveals his background and true identity to Leila is really well done. Judging a book by its cover: My paperback cover of this has a blond dude with stubble looking out from behind a curtain. I refuse to believe it's supposed to be Ismal/D'Esmond, but refuse to acknowledge this, as he's described several times in the book as the most beautiful man anyone has ever seen, and the slightly scruffy surfer dude on the cover clearly doesn't fit that. The audio book cover is this underwear-clad red-head, where I always get more distracted by the beautiful blue brocade wallpaper than the woman. Not sure if that was entirely the effect the cover designers were looking for.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katyana

    *****4.5***** It was interesting to pick up on Ismal's story 10 years after the events of book 1. He was a pretty wicked villain throughout the first book, but I remember the bit at the end, where Jason tells Ismal that he pities Ismal - that he is a brilliant, talented young man who threw his life away - and it stood out to me. I was curious to understand more about the young man (he was only 22 in the first book) and what had led him down this road. We don't get a lot of the backstory in this bo *****4.5***** It was interesting to pick up on Ismal's story 10 years after the events of book 1. He was a pretty wicked villain throughout the first book, but I remember the bit at the end, where Jason tells Ismal that he pities Ismal - that he is a brilliant, talented young man who threw his life away - and it stood out to me. I was curious to understand more about the young man (he was only 22 in the first book) and what had led him down this road. We don't get a lot of the backstory in this book, but we get some... and that coupled with the bits in the first book where everyone acknowledged that Ali was a vicious tyrant was enough to throw most of Ismal's behavior into a different light. It actually makes me think poorly of Jason, honestly, that he would work for a man who would butcher a whole village if a person in it displeased him. But I suppose that's neither here nor there. I liked this one more than the last book because, while we have an equally brilliant heroine in this book... she fits better into this one because she's not surrounded by people who treat her like an idiot for doing what most non-cowardly people in her situation would do. That's refreshing. I also appreciated the tangled mystery in this one. Unraveling all the horrible shit her husband had done, and how it involved all these other people ... it was fascinating (and it made me feel surprise that no one had killed that contemptible piece of shit earlier). And I loved Leila and Ismal together. They complemented each other perfectly, in terms of intellect and personality. It made the book a joy to read.

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