Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed
By Anna Campbell
Publisher: Grand Central
September 25, 2012
Sidonie Forsythe arrives at Castle Craven expecting its master to be a monster. That’s what her sister, Roberta, Lady Hillbrook had led her to expect. Sidonie has come to this godforsaken place on a bitterly cold November night for one reason—to save her sister. However wrong her sister was to gamble and place herself in the power of Jonas Merrick, she doesn’t deserve the price she’ll pay if her abusive husband discovers what Merrick is demanding for her vowels. So to save her sister’s life and to protect her two young nephews, Sidonie has come to Castle Craven in Roberta’s place. She will offer her virginity as a substitute for the adulterous sex with the wife of his life-long enemy that is what Jonas Merrick has demanded in exchange for absolving Lady Hillbrook’s gambling debt.
Jonas Merrick is a bastard. Branded as one literally when his parents’ marriage was declared invalid, he has proudly assumed the role of a cold-hearted, alienated man who uses his wealth and power ruthlessly to achieve his goals. He inherited his father’s considerable unentailed fortune, and he has added to it with single-minded purpose. Wealth will be the weapon he uses to destroy his cousin William--the man who holds the title that should have been Jonas’s, the man responsible for the physical and psychic scars that define Jonas, the man married to Sidonie Forsythe’s sister.
Neither Sidonie nor Jonas find what they expect. Sidonie sees in Jonas not a monster, but a man, although not handsome, who is so filled with life and intelligence that he captures her interest despite the situation. She fears him, but she is also fascinated by him. And she’s confused by the mix of dread and desire he inspires in her. For his part, Jonas was expecting Roberta, a shallow beauty whose only attraction for him was as a means to strike another blow at his mortal enemy. Instead, he sees a younger woman whose mix of innocence, spirit, and voluptuousness stirs his interest, his loins, and his heart.
Sidonie so captivates Jonas that on the morning after her arrival, he maneuvers her into a new bargain. Sidonie will spend six more days and nights with him, after which he will give her Roberta’s vowels and consider the debt fully paid. During the period, Jonas will do all within his power to seduce her into coming willingly to his bed. Sidonie will do all she can to resist him and to leave with her sister’s debt paid and her own virtue intact. Jonas has lived a life filled with betrayal, and he will not allow himself to be vulnerable. Sidonie has seen in her parents’ marriage and her sister’s what happens to a woman when marriage places her under the control of a man. She is determined to live a life of single independence. But the love they find in their time together is more powerful than the either of them could have dreamed. Will it be more powerful than Sidonie’s loyalty to the sister who was her only source of affection throughout their childhood? Will it be strong enough to enable Jonas to forgive more betrayals?
The opening scene of SNIARB took me back to summers when I visited a favorite aunt and read grocery bags filled with the Gothic romances she had saved for me. I was hooked from the opening sentence: “Storms split the heavens on the night Sidonie Forsythe went to her ruin.” Although the love scenes in the Gothic romances of my long-ago youth were tepid and bland in comparison to the sizzle and flames of Campbell’s fiction, in the innocent heroine, the isolated setting, the stormy night, the scarred hero, the irresistible attraction, the secrets and the distrust all evoked memories of those earlier books. Added to the Gothic appeal were the Beauty and Beast theme and the complex characters that I expect in an Anna Campbell book.
I read romance fiction because I can trust in the happy ending. At the same time, the books that I find most compelling are those that make me believe for a few holding-my-breath moments that there is no way the hero and heroine can overcome the obstacles and win their HEA. Campbell gave me these moments in this book. I loved Sidonie and Jonas, flaws and all. I believed in their love for one another, and I thought they deserved one another. But there were those moments when my heart stuttered and I thought, oh no, they can’t make it past this. But, of course, they did and in a sublimely satisfying epilogue.
Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed is Anna Campbell’s first book for Grand Central. It’s the first book in a series and the introduction to her first series. How rare is that for a romance author who debuted in 2007? It’s a wonderful beginning. In fact, I think this may be AC’s best book yet. I loved it, and I can’t wait to read the stories of those other Sons of Sin, Cam Rothermere and Richard Harmsworth.
Are you a fan of Gothic romances? What's your favorite?