Reviewed by JenIt's been four years since her fiance's death left Hester heartbroken, alone, and totally dependent on her brother Robert. Since then, she's led a safe, albeit passionless, life. Her ordered world comes crashing down on her, though, when Robert gets arrested in a raid on a gay brothel. Suddenly, her friends turn on her, her brother's business is ruined, and she has lost her home and protector. Things look terribly bleak until Thomas enters the picture.
Thomas is Robert's landlord, and he's held a silent affection towards Hester for years. She feels the same, though neither is aware that the attraction is mutual. When he learns of Robert's arrest, he takes Hester into his home. He helps her get back on her feet and assists Robert by sending food and clothes to the prison. It's no time at all before Thomas and Hester give in to their attraction. But in close quarters, their feelings for one another grow deeper and deeper.
Of course, Robert's legal troubles are a cloud that hangs over Hester at every turn. Despite the stigma attached to his arrest, she refuses to give up on him. She devotes herself to saving him as he once saved her. It's a commitment she pays for dearly, both in how she is treated by society and in how it forces her into the path of an unsavory villain.
I enjoyed the story. Hester is such a strong heroine. She is so steadfast and forthright. And Thomas is a really solid hero... devoted and loyal. Theirs is not a relationship of misunderstandings or betrayals... and I liked that. Their biggest obstacles were external ones, which gave their romance an "us against the world" kind of feel. I also really like how the author dealt with Robert's homosexuality and took us through his ordeal. I was surprised that his was the secondary romance in the book. Surprised, but pleased.
There wasn't very much sex, but I found that I didn't really miss it. Don't get me wrong, our characters are getting busy, but it happens mostly off-page.
There's an interesting mystery surrounding Robert's smarmy barrister and what he's got up his sleeve. The "bad feeling" he gave people was a little heavy handed from time-to-time, but I still enjoyed learning what he was about and the little edge of danger his side-plot added to the story.
It was a little different. I liked it.
*ARC Provided by NetGalley
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The White Swan Affairby Elyse MadyRelease Date: May 21, 2012Publisher: Carina Press