Title: Stormswept (2nd edition)
Author: Sabrina Jeffries writing as Deborah Martin
Publisher: Pocket Books
Expected Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Genre: Historical, Romance
Format: eBook, Paperback
Page Count: 384
Rating: 3 Stars
New York Times bestseller Sabrina Jeffries reignites a daring love affair in this intriguing tale of desire and deception—originally written as Deborah Martin and newly revised for today’s audience.
The first wedding night that Lady Juliana St. Albans spent with the dark and daring Rhys Vaughan was intoxicating, the heady culmination of her new husband’s driving hunger and her own awakened sensuality. When he mysteriously disappeared the next morning, she waited for him in hope and desperation. And when he was finally proclaimed dead in a shipwreck, she bitterly mourned the loss of her love.
The second wedding night that Juliana spent with Rhys Vaughan was six years later, after he returned to claim her just as she was about to wed another. This Rhys was different—bolder, harder, and convinced that she’d betrayed him. Only their blazing passion remains from their years apart. But is it enough to light their way through the maze of mystery, menace, and mistrust—to the love they once shared and would have to find again?
♦ Personal Thought ♦
Lies. So much lies. The intricacy of lies and resentment that cause so much hurt and pain.
I didn’t read the first edition so when there’s a re-release I took the opportunity to grab Sabrina’s newly covered book under pen name Deborah Martin and I have never read any books under that name before. The writing (felt different than what I pegged as Sabrina Jeffries style and) had a more subdued tone. It was less cheery.
The story set at late 18th century Wales and revolved around St. Albans siblings, an English nobility with family seat in Carmarthen; Rhys Vaughan of Llynwydd and his good friend Morgan Pennant who owned a bookstore.
This is where I have to warn you from proceeding. The following might contain spoiler. So continue at your own risk. 🙂
It all started on the basement of a bookstore where Sons of Wales – a secret meeting where rabble of hotheads Welshmen talked politics openly – gathered. Rhys Vaughan was an educated squire’s son who was passionate about Welsh language and poetry. He circulated pamphlets that urged his countrymen to be proud to use Welsh as their language. Juliana, daughter of an English earl, followed her lady’s maid to this meeting because Lettice wanted to see her sweetheart, Morgan Pennant. A bluestocking, Juliana was no less passionate about anything Welsh and the mutual feeling united them (Juliana and Rhys).
Darcy, heir of Northcliffe Earldom and Juliana’s eldest brother, was besotted with Lettice. He also detested Rhys when he stormed Carmarthen to confront Juliana’s father who tricked Rhys’s father out of Llynwydd and accused the Earl of using his daughter to spy on the meeting; more so when he found out Rhys marrying his sister. To protect family name and for his personal gain, Darcy had Rhys and Morgan impressed and served in Royal Navy.
That was more or less how the first half of the story went. With half of the casts believing the web of deceit a young noble concocted.
The plot was pretty predictable: second chance, vengeance, true love conquered all, with a bit of political background. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for Morgan and Rhys while being impressed. On the other hand, for radicals these two were rather careless – at least compared to other radical/spy characters of close period that I’ve read so far. They were too easily played by their enemy and believed the worst of their supposed true-love.
To say I disliked Darcy was an understatement. He did what he did because he thought Rhys not good enough for his sister, he sought to make sure Rhys wouldn’t want to come back, he needed to have Morgan away so he could take Lettice as his. Not only that, he brought along his youngest sibling as accomplice and implicitly threatened Overton if he ever exposed the truth; AND hid behind his sister’s skirts with more lies.
While Darcy was the most apparent villain of the story, this was one of those times where I found it really hard to like ALL of the characters in the book. Darcy’s conducts might have been the most awful and jeopardizing life. Along with Overton who covered up for his brother. But let’s not forget that Juliana lied about her estate and marriage, which of course, add to the whole mess. In the beginning I thought her to be so naive for a 21 year old. As it went, I gradually, and (admittedly) grudgingly, came to respect her faith, strength and optimism.
As for Rhys Vaughan… Sigh. Apart from his look and prowess in bed, he literary failed to be hero of the moment for numerous times. Even his grovelling effort was really NOT that impressive.
Those who redeem themselves (in my eyes) were Morgan and Overton. Morgan for sure had proper brain on his head and used it to figure things up. Overton might be weak, but in crucial time and for love of his sister finally step up and admit all. Surprise of all surprise – being the blackguard throughout the story that he was – I kinda pity Darcy and wish somehow he found way to redeem himself.
If I had to choose I much prefer the author’s work as Sabrina Jeffries than Deborah Martin. I won’t dispute that both writings are solid, though Martin’s gloomier than the two. Perhaps I’m just in that stage in life to prefer much more lighthearted and uplifting story than this.
Advanced copy of this book is kindly provided by the publisher viaNetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.