SETTING: England/France, 1816
HEROINE: Rosalie Belleau, 20
HERO: Randall Berkeley, 28
VIRGIN HEROINE: Yes
BODICE RIPPER? No
RAPE? Yes, once by hero
FROM PUBLISHER: Beautiful young Rosalie Belleau was swept up into an aristocratic world of luxury, license and intricate intrigue when the most notorious and handsome rake in London, Lord Randall Berkeley; abducted her in the belief that she was any man’s for the taking. Before he realized his mistake, he had branded her with his desire-and lost his heart to this girl so unlike any he had ever known. Both Rosalie, waking to womanhood, and Sir Randall, learning the power of lose, were in the dark about each other–until the flames of passion lit their way through a labyrinth of danger… to the dazzling heights of ecstasy….
HEROINE: She's 20 year old Rosalie Belleau, born in 1796 in France. She's got long dark hair and blue eyes. She's an only child. Rosalie is personal maid to Lady Winthrop and companion to her daughter Elaine.
HERO: He's 28 year old Randall Berkeley but goes by 'Rand'. He's got "deep amber hair" and "unfashionably dark skin", hazel eyes. Has one brother named Colin. He's two years younger than Rand.
The book opens with Rosalie asking her mother Amille about her father. Amille said her father had been a confectioner who had died when Rosalie was one month old. Amille wanted to change the subject. Amille asked Rosalie what she wanted out of marriage. Rosalie wanted contentment. She said she wanted to live and had a suspicion that she'll end up a spinster.
Rand and his grandfather were discussing the family business, Berkeley Shipping. Rand said he'd take care of the problem that they were having with the business and would travel to France to take care of it. His grandfather told him that he didn't like that he was the first born, making him heir to his grandfathers fortune, since Rand's parents were dead. He then told Rand he didn't think he was deserving of the fortune and that he trusted his brother Colin more.
Rand went to the club to hang out with his friends before traveling to France the next day. While he was there, Rosalie and her mother Amille were at the theather. A candle on stage caught the curtains on fire, so everyone ran out of the place out into the street. Some man was chasing after Rosalie, grabbing at her and she scratched his face. He punched her and knocked her out cold. She fell and her face landed on Rand's foot. He'd just come out of the club with his friends. Rand picked her up and put her over his shoulder. The dock worker who'd been chasing Rosalie told Rand that she was his since he'd been chasing her so Rand paid the man for his 'trouble'. Rand took her home in his carriage.
She woke up in Rands bed with a terrible headache and called out for her mother, since she was a bit disoriented. The first thing Rand said to her was, "So they're blue", talking about her eyes. She asked him how he came to be there and he told her she was accosted the night before and that it had been impossible for him to ignore her. She said she needed to leave. He told her to sit down so they could discuss what she owed him for rescuing her. She told him she owed him nothing and he said, the hell you don't!" She got up, dressed only in her chemise, and started to get dressed. Rand told her, "I wouldn't bother with that just yet." She continued to get dressed and he told her to put the garment down. She told him he wouldn't bed her and grabbed up his razor and threatened him with it. He grabbed her wrist and put the blade up to her throat, causing her to get nicked. He put a cloth up to her neck to get up the blood and she smacked him. He kissed her and dragged her over to the bed. He took his robe off, revealing his nakedness. He spread her arms wide and she said, "Don't do this to me. You could have anyone." She told him she was a virgin and he said he didn't believe her. She said it was true and he said, "Then it seems I'm called upon to find proof of your claim." Then he raped her and found that she was indeed a virgin; he saw the blood.
She knew she couldn't return to work since she didn't come home the night before and Rand knew it too. He didn't want her to have to become a prostitute so he told her she was going with him to France for a few weeks, until he could figure out what to do with her. She told him she didn't want to have to 'submit' to him for even one night and he said he wouldn't touch her. She said she didn't know what to do and he told her to decide whether or not she was going with him or not. She decided to go with him and wrote a letter to her mother, letting her know where she was going.
They arrived in France and shared adjoining rooms. They later went to the dressmakers to have clothing made for her. They spent two weeks avoiding each other and really only saw each other at dinner. He opened up a bit about himself. He told her his mother was French and she and his father had lived together in London while he and his brother Colin had been raised by servants in another household in England. When Rand was in his early teens, his father was suffering with gout and moved in with he and his brother. His father started drinking heavily because of gout pain. To amuse himself, he'd force Rand to drink too. Rand became an alcoholic. His mother knew about it but didn't do anything to stop it. She'd grown up wealthy in France. A few years later his mother died in labor with another mans child. His grandparents made him sober up and sent him away to school. A year later his father died. Rand told Rosalie that he wanted to sell the French estates that belonged to his mother.
Rand left the room then to go do something and Rosalie broke down and cried for him and his childhood. She berated herself and asked how she could cry for him after what he'd done to her. Later she told him he didn't have any respect for her and he said he did. She was remembering a dance they'd shared recently and she realized then that she was starting to care for him, her rapist. They then went to visit his friend George Brummell, who goes by the name "the Beau", again. He recognized the pin Rosalie was wearing on a ribbon around her neck. It had the letter B on it, which she was told by her mother stood for their last name, Belleau, and said the pin had been her fathers. Beau called in his servant who then told everyone that that was the same pin Beau, who is 18 years older than Rosalie, gave to a girlfriend, Lucy Doncaster many, many years before. On a previous visit, Beau and told Rosalie that she resembled Lucy and showed her a photo of her from a locket. He told them that Lucy disappeared one day way back then and a year later, was found dead in the river, where she'd drowned herself. Rosalie's mother Amille had been Lucy's governess then. So it looks like George 'the Beau' Brummell and Lucy Doncaster may be Rosalie's parents. Lucy must have given Rosalie to Amille to raise. That would mean that soon after Rosalie's birth, Lucy drowned herself.
Rosalie is very upset by this news, so they leave to go back to the hotel. The next day Rand went to see Beau. He told Beau that because of all the debt he left behind in England, he'd better never tell anyone that Rosalie may be his daughter because she may be thrown into debtors' prison. Days later, Rand was shown a newspaper article that said it's rumored that Rosalie is the daughter of Beau. Rand became jealous at the thought of men chasing after her when they find out she's the daughter of a famous man. He got the idea then to marry her, to protect her from Beau's debt. He went home and decided not to tell Rosalie about the article. He asked her to go to Paris with him for a week because he had business to discuss. He wanted to shield her from the rumor. She agreed to go with him.
One night after arriving in Paris, she and Rand were dancing together after dinner. She thought to herself that she was in love with him. They went back to their hotel room. Her luggage had been put into the ajoining room but she didn't want to leave Rand's room, so she asked him to unlace the back of her dress. He told her she'd better go but she didn't move. She said his name and he asked her if she knew what she was doing. She said yes, so they had sex. The next night at the opera house, a woman came up to Rand and Rosalie. She told Rosalie she must be the famous Miss Belleau, then told her she'd been written about in the paper. They went home. Rosalie was mad because Rand hadn't told her about the article in the paper. She said when they got back to London, she was going to find a job and ask her mother about Beau. Rand said he couldn't let her live alone in London, then asked her to marry him. She said she didn't want to marry him or be kept by him. She loves him, though she hasn't told him yet, and thinks that one day he'll lose interest in her. He said to her, "You'll marry me if I have to tempt, bully and seduce you into it." They had sex then got into an argument over her not wanting to marry him.
Rand left the room then Rosalie got violently sick fromt he wine. She rang for a maid then passed out. The doctor was called in and Rand figured that the wine had been drugged with opium. He tried to find out who could have drugged it but came to the conclusion that it'd be impossible to figure it all because there were so many kitchen staff workers and servants. He knew that Beau had gossiped about Rosalie possibly being his daughter and that may have led to her being poisoned. He wrote to Mr. Bonchamps, inquiring about Beau's credit 'affairs'. He told the man to visit with each and every person Beau has done business with and tell them to cut off his credit. That night in the room with Rosalie, Rand saw someone unlock the door then go over to Rosalie. It was dark so Rand couldn't see who it was. Rand grabbed the man around the neck from behind and the man stabbed Rand then fled. The maid came into the room, 15 year old Mireille Germain, to tend to his wound. He told her to not mention the intruder to anyone. A few days later Rand was sitting by Rosalie's bedside while she was still unconcious. He told her she had broken him and asked her not to leave him here alone. Just then Rosalie woke up. He asked Mireille, the maid, to bring her some broth and water. Rand knew someone was out to get Rosalie, so they, along with the maid, left for his familys chateau. He told her she needed to recover in the country. He didn't tell her about the intruder.
One day, she found a drunk Rand sitting in front of a portrait of his mother. Thinking about his parents had upset him so he started drinking. He told her to get out. She told him he's not accountable for anything his parents had done. When she awoke the next day, the village bell was ringing. There was a fire in the village. Rand showed up and Rosalie begged him not to help with the fires but he went anyway. He told her to say at the house but later, he saw her helping out in the village. He asked her why she'd disobeyed him and she said, "Because I love you." Later that night in her bedroom, he told her that he loved her and asked her again to marry him. She said yes.
A letter arrived from her mother, Amille. She confirmed that Lucy and Beau were indeed her parents. Amille also told Rosalie that she should stay in Rands care as long as possible but she didn't say why. At the same time her letter was delivered, Rand got a letter from his brother notifying him of their grandfathers death. They needed to go back to England within a few days. Rand wanted the maid Mireille and her older brother Guillaume to go with them. Guillaume had showed up there one day after Mireille told him she was going with Rand and Rosalie to the chateau. Rand allowed him to say and found work for him. Before leaving for England, Rosalie, Mireille and Guillaume went to the fair. Rosalie wanted to have her fortune read so there were heading to the where the Gypsy lady was. Guillaume made up a lie about having dropped the money purse and he asked his sister to go look for it. She went to look for it and Guillaume grabbed Rosalie's wrists and tied them, gagged her and tied her legs together. He told her that the world is not good to people like her. He gave her to the Gypsy woman and she left with her. Guillaume told Mireille what he'd done, told her that someone was offering a lot of money to kidnap Rosalie and that the two of them were going to be rich. Mireille had grown close to Rosalie and shocked at what her brother had done. She told him she never wanted to see him again and walked away from him. She left a note for Rand telling him her brother is the one who stabbed him in Paris and that he's sent Rosalie to London. Mireille wasn't heard from again.
Rand returned home to England and told his brother Colin what had happened. He got Colin to go around to various clubs to see if he could find out anyhing about Rosalie. When Rand was in a club, he met Rosalie's mother, Amille. They went back to her home to talk privately. She told him that Lucy had been deeply in love with Beau but he didn't love her. She was supposed to marry the Earl of Rotherham, but she didn't want to and that he was very obsessed with her. Lucy was pregnant with Rosalie and very depressed so she and her governess Amille traveled from England to France to say with Amille's family. Lucy never told her family she was pregnant. She gave birth to Rosalie in France, then drowned herself a few months later. Amille hadn't planned to raise Rosalie but ended up doing so. She made up the story about Rosalie's father and being widowed. She told him it was probably the Earl of Rotherham that was after Rosalie, not Beau.
Back in England, Rosalie was being held in a bedroom. The Earl of Rotherham came into the room. He told her that Lucy had been his and since Rosalie is her daughter, she now belonged to him. He told her she was a whore like her mother. She hit him in the throat and ran out of the room. As she was running toward the front door, Rand, out of the blue, showed up, since Amille told him the Earl probably had her. Rotherham was watching from the top of the stairs and he challanged Rand to a saber fight, which of course, Rand won.
Last chapter begins with them taking about it being their first day was husband and wife. Rand said she has men searching all over for Guillaume. Rosalie told him she wants her maid Mireille found. That's how the book ended.
MY THOUGHTS: I thought this was a pretty good book and I never got bored with it. What I liked most about it was her 15 year old maid Mireille. Mireille is very guarded about her past. Her brother said once that their mother was a prostitute and that he and Mireille are half siblings. At the end of the book Mireille up and disappeared but guess what? She's got her own story in this books sequel, "Forever My Love". In the book she's 20 years old and uses the name Mira.