Title: Temptation & Twilight (Brethren Guardians #3)
Author: Charlotte Featherstone
Availability: June 19, 2012 Mass Market Paperback (Harlequin), with e-book available July 1.
Iain Sinclair, Marquis of Alynwick and Laird of the Clan Sinclair, is a desolate rake whose beautiful exterior masks the ugliness he feels inside, he doesn’t like who he sees when he looks in the mirror. Together with fellow Templar knight descendants Jude Sheldon, Earl of Black and Adrian York, Duke of Sussex (the heroes of the two preceding Brethren Guardian books, Seduction & Scandal and Pride & Passion, respectively), Alynwick is charged with the protection of ancient relics brought back from the Crusades and said to hold unearthly power when brought together.
Unbeknownst to his fellow Brethren Guardians, Alynwick once had a torrid and ill-fated love affair with Elizabeth York, the duke’s now-blind sister. In the twelve years since he broke Elizabeth’s heart –and in the process, his own– Alynwick has drowned in self loathing, with the aid of sinful women and single malt Scotch.
Throughout the Brethren Guardians series, a dark force has been seeking the trio of Templar relics and bringing danger ever closer to Alynwick and Elizabeth. A life threatening situation brings Alynwick’s greatest regret to the surface and he intends to use all his powers of persuasion to tempt Elizabeth to open her heart to him once more.
Memorable Line: “I see the boy I loved. But I also see the man you’ve become. I don’t need sight to know you. Or see you.”
Reading Temptation & Twilight made me very glad for my obsessive compulsive need to read related books in order. I fear I would have been frightfully lost without having read the previous books in the Brethren Guardian series, Seduction & Scandal and Pride & Passion. The immediately preceding book in the series, Pride & Passion, ended with a cliff-hanger involving Iain and Elizabeth. I was pleased this installment told some of the events of Pride & Passion from Iain and Elizabeth’s points of view. Their storyline has been simmering in the background since the first book and it was nice to experience some ‘missing moments’ with them, unfortunately the overlap grew a bit too long. I knew something big was coming –I’d already read about it in the previous book!– and it seemed to take forever to get there.
For me, the weakest part of Temptation & Twilight was the House of Orpheus ‘mystery’ subplot that was woven throughout the three books. Honestly, it wasn’t that much of a mystery to me. I figured out the identity of the villain early in the last book and the ‘Big Reveal’ was rather anti-climatic; I definitely felt like something was missing. I can only imagine how lost I would have been if I hadn’t read the first two books.
Iain and Elizabeth have enough of a story of their own to tell without worrying about the Templar secrets. When this novel concentrates on the two of them, it’s stellar. The journey across the chasm of fear and regret that separates them is compelling and satisfying, it doesn’t need ancient secrets and evil plans to enhance it.
Elizabeth refuses to let her disability make her a victim and continues to be a vivacious, engaging woman. She does not let her blindness define her. I found her utterly refreshing. Elizabeth’s lack of sight only becomes an overwhelming impediment when it comes to Iain, for without it she feels she cannot truly know what he’s feeling. And Iain … oh Iain, you gorgeous, lonely, lascivious man. I adored the way his Scots brogue would make itself known in moments of high emotion, when he let himself be stripped to his most elemental nature. He valiantly struggles to express himself in ways Elizabeth can trust, to make himself seen by her.
I wasn’t thrilled that it took a life and death situation (and self-made one at that) for Iain to confront his feelings regarding his past with Elizabeth. The timing of another interested suitor didn’t help matters either (“Uh-oh, better act now, someone else in interested!”). I would have liked it if Iain had been clear about his intentions towards Elizabeth from the beginning. The novel would not have suffered from her knowing the depth of his designs on her, she still would have had much to struggle with in order to conceive of a future with Iain – it would have made the consequences of her decision all the more compelling. Talking may not have been Iain’s strong suit, but the poor girl deserved some answers a heck of a lot sooner, just trying to seduce her into accepting him was not the right path and didn’t demonstrate nearly enough contrition.
When they do finally get together … it’s well worth the wait. The tender, erotic love scenes in this book were masterfully done (Iain’s active imagination! The mirror! The cravat!!! *swoon*). I actually teared up at the flood of emotions Iain released in his vulnerability at the end. There’s such a palpable sense of longing between Iain and Elizabeth for so much of the book, I couldn’t help but breath a sigh of relief right along with them once that hunger was satisfied.
All in all, an emotionally satisfying conclusion to the Brethren Guardian story, if an unremarkable end to the mystery.
* This book was received as a Digital Review Copy from the Publisher.