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Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: What a Lady Most Desires by Lecia Cornwall

Okay. I'll admit. Secretly, in the private confines of my bedroom, I'm all for this cover. 
Bare chested. Rippling Muscles. Dagger on the side. 
Oh yeah. Please bring the fan while I proceed to swoon.

In Public? You know the situation.


The Duchess of Richmond’s Ball, Brussels

He was the only man in the world who had the power to stop her breath just by walking
into a room.

“Lady Delphine, I believe this is our dance.”
Major Stephen Ives was standing next to her, and her breath stopped yet again. She shut her
mouth with an audible snap.

The door of the study opened again, and a grim-faced cavalry officer held up his hand
for silence. The music faltered and died. “Gentlemen, finish your dances, take leave of
your partners and return to your units at once.” Dismayed cries rose from the ladies, and
Stephen looked around, taking note of the officers in his own regiment.
“What news?”
The young soldier glanced at her and bowed before replying. “Napoleon crossed the
frontier at Charleroi. Wellington plans to engage him south of here.”

Delphine put a hand to her throat. It was suddenly real and frightening—all the weeks
of watching troops gather in preparation for a battle that seemed like it would never
come, or at worst, would happen somewhere else, somewhere far away.
Outside, the yard was in chaos. Torches lit the faces of panicked horses, their eyes
rolling white as yelling coachmen tried to force their way to the door to pick up their

“Good night, my lady, and thank you for the dance,” he said with
cool politeness. “Remember, if things go awry tomorrow—”

She didn’t want to think about that. She threw herself into his arms to stop the words,
and kissed him. He caught her, and for a moment he was stiff, his posture indignant, but
she stood on her toes and pressed her lips to his, praying he would come back alive.
Then his arms wrapped around her and he kissed her back.
“You will come back,” she whispered, making it a command.
Suddenly it hardly mattered if he admired her or not. She only wanted him to live.

Stephen felt the first bullet punch through his shoulder moments later and knock the
wind from his lungs. The second shot tore a button from his tunic, sent it spinning in the
air before his eyes. The pain was instant, a white-hot light that blurred his vision,

Captain Lord Peter Rothdale (Villain) searched the battlefield, his handkerchief pressed to his
nose against the stench. He had to be sure, had to find Stephen Ives and take the vowel
from his pocket. If Ives survived to make good on his threats, then Peter would be ruined. 

Damn him. He wasn’t dead. Peter would have to finish him, be forced to look into
Ives’s eyes as he killed him. He stuffed the crumpled vowel into his own pocket with a
curse and crept forward. He wrapped his hands around the major’s neck. He felt Ives
tense as he began to squeeze, heard him gasp for air, and he gripped harder, throttling
him. Ives scrabbled weakly at his wrist, leaving a trail of blood and dirt. Rothdale gritted
his teeth. “Die,” he murmured. “Die.”

“Another live one here!” a voice called behind Peter, and he let go, sprang back.
“Water,” Ives croaked.
“Mate of yours, Captain?” the sweating stretcher bearer asked, laying two dirty fingers
on Ives’s neck. “Don’t worry, he’s still alive. We’ll get him back to Brussels to the surgeons.”

Peter’s tongue glued itself to the roof of his mouth. Ives cried out in pain as they lifted
him, and then his head lolled as he lost consciousness again. Rothdale could only watch as the stretcher crew picked their way through the dead to the waiting carts.

Peter clenched his bloody fists in frustration. Ives was alive. 
Now whose side was luck on?
 It hardly mattered, since he had a plan. Peter set off for the edge of the battlefield, and headed for headquarters at Waterloo village.

She caught a glimpse of blond hair matted with blood and dirt, and saw the yellow
facings on his tunic. His face was bruised and filthy, and he was almost unrecognizable,
but she knew him.
“Stephen!” She felt all the air rushing out of her lungs with that single word. She
touched his cheek, clambered up into the cart, ran her hands over his limbs, trying to see
where he was hurt.

Blind? The word filled his mind, turned pain to sheer terror. He opened his eyes wide to
prove her wrong, blinked, tried to adjust to the darkness, but he saw nothing. He forced
his hand up to his face, ignoring the agony the movement caused, and rubbed his eyes,
felt the bruises and cuts on his face object. Still the darkness would not clear. He reached
out, trying to touch her, to touch anything, but the air around him was empty.

Then she caught his hand and he squeezed it as if it were life itself. He felt the
embarrassment of hot tears running down the side of his face. “No,” he said. “No.”
“I’m here,” she whispered. “You’re alive.”

Was he? She said it as if he’d won a prize. He stared into the darkness and saw no life
at all.

What would become of him if his sight did not return? In a few weeks, she would return
to London, go back to being an earl’s daughter. She would spend her days visiting, being
visited, playing the piano, going to parties, watching the hands on the clock creep. She
hated the idea. How could she dance and flirt and play when she’d been here, seen this?

She wasn’t that woman any longer.
She kept her eyes on the lamp in the window. There was an alternative.
Stephen needed her, and it was time to grow up.

But what will happen when Stephen is accused of cowardice and theft on battlefield.
Will the young couple be able to slay their demons, overcome their pride, fight for justice and get their happily ever after?


Infused with vivid descriptions and heart-wrenching moments, this story had a way of communicating the emotions of people and the tension filled surroundings. I could feel the change in atmosphere when the war started, the despair loved ones felt when their families were to be separated, the blinding agony of dying, the anxiety of being accepted by your crush and the utter hopelessness of loosing your eyesight. A short war but a million casualties. No country truly winning at the end. I could even understand the villain's motives, driven by a desperation and an unfeeling childhood. But yes, as most romances go, there were instances when I wanted to smack the heroine and beat the hero with a broom again and again till he would overcome his pride, propose to the heroine and actually understand that she really did like him (You are a diplomat for crying out loud and how dare you lie about your eyes!) and for being slightly chauvinistic about the female virginity. But then again, he was undergoing such a stressful period and conflicting emotions can make you a teeny-ity-bit hardheaded.  He does propose in the end, in the cutest possible manner. (See below)
Beautifully done.


“She has refused others before you,” Ainsley said. “Why do you wish to marry my daughter?”
Stephen shifted. “It’s not about money, my lord, or your title, though I’m certain you would be a fine gentleman to be related to by marriage.”
Sebastian stifled a snicker, but Delphine didn’t pinch him. She was staring at Stephen.
“I, that is—”
“Say it,” Nicholas prompted.
“She loves me,” Stephen blurted.
There was more silence.
“I mean, I love her. I love her.”

Copy Courtesy - Edelweiss


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