Review – King of Hearts by Eileen Putman

Not for nothing is Gabriel Sinclair known as the King of Hearts. His wit beguiles, his charm seduces, and he’s never met a woman he couldn’t captivate. He’s at home on the sea but nowhere else. As for family? He has seen enough madness in his own to last a lifetime. He shuns hopeless causes, deeper emotions, any whiff of permanence.

Widowed Louisa Peabody tolerates no man’s touch. Her past has shown her men are seducers and abusers. She devotes herself to helping women in need, but her clumsy efforts often end in disaster. After she accidentally saves Gabriel’s life, she persuades him to help her stage a daring rescue from a prison hulk in the Thames.

But it’s a devil’s bargain: Can she protect herself from that wild, reckless fire in his eyes? Can he care for anyone but himself?

The League of Rogues series features daring English lords who risk all for their country. Hardened and deadly, they have no use for love—until it ensnares them…

Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                    King of Hearts: British Rogues Historical Romance (League of Rogues Book 1)

About the Author:

Eileen Putman is the author of a dozen British historical and Regency romances. Her love of England’s Regency period (1811-1820) has inspired her research trips to England, Ireland, Wales, France and other countries — there being no substitute for stepping on the soil that Beau Brummell and his champagne-polished Hessians once trod.

Coming in September 2017: King of Hearts, the first book in the League of Rogues series of longer British historicals featuring Andrew Maitland’s extraordinary group of daring rogues working clandestinely during the Napoleonic Wars. These English lords risk all for their country. Hardened and deadly, they have no use for love—until it ensnares them…

The Love in Disguise Regencies include “A Passionate Performance,” “The Perfect Bride,” “The Dastardly Duke” and “Reforming Harriet.” These new editions are not simply re-issues of previous books. Each has been lovingly rewritten.

Eileen’s books have won many awards, including the Holt Medallion, the Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers Association, and the National Readers’ Choice Award.

My Review:               

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

KING OF HEARTS wastes no time in jumping right into the action, as an inebriated Baron Gabriel Sinclair, our hero, has just won a yacht while gambling.  Now he and his companion are on a silly quest to find a lock of virgin hair.  Gabriel’s mostly innocent venture into a convent causes a major ruckus and he is soon jailed on trumped up rape and attempted murder charges.  Gabriel is surprisingly pragmatic about his death sentence, thinking that his demise will at least end his pain and restlessness.  Still, as he is at the gallows, with the rope around his neck, and the trapdoor opens, as the life begins to leave his body – his last conscious thought is that he would have liked another chance.

Louisa Peabody is a wealthy young widow with a dislike and distrust of men.  Her father gave her to a loathsome man to pay off his debts, and that six hour marriage taught Louisa everything she ever wants to know about sexual intimacy and abusive men.  Since then, she has used her late husband’s wealth to rescue women and children who were abandoned or mistreated, and her household is filled with those redeemed souls.  Louisa’s latest rescue project is a woman who is sentenced to hang, simply for stealing a loaf of bread.  This attempt is bold and dangerous, as she intends to remove the victim directly from the gallows and escape.  Louisa does not know that the hanging schedule has been changed, and she charges in only to find that she has rescued a man – Gabriel Sinclair.

A half-hanged man is obviously going to be addled for awhile.  Not knowing what else to do, Louisa reluctantly takes the injured man to her home.  As Gabriel slowly regains his senses, he finds that his usual charm and wiles have no effect on Louisa.  She’s anxious to have him gone, and he’s equally eager to leave.  Gabriel overhears Louisa and her crew discussing the latest rescue plan.  It seems that the woman Louisa intended to rescue from the gallows has now been moved to a prison ship docked at the harbor.  There are few things that Gabriel does not know about boats, so he adds his thoughts to their risky plan.  Louisa decides that she needs Gabriel to make this plan work, so she makes him a financial offer he can’t refuse.

This reluctant partnership showcases the differences between Gabriel and Louisa.   He appears light and charming, with no desire to care deeply for anyone or anything, and certainly no intention of anything permanent.  Louisa appears to disdain all men and wants no physical intimacy or even touching.  Her passion is all directed to her rescue missions.  Yet, Gabriel’s outwardly carefree persona is his defense mechanism to bury some deep pain and sorrow in his life.  He truly does care for the rescued women and the missions, and despite himself, he can’t seem to turn his back on them.  Louisa’s appearance of hardness is really strength.  She did endure physical abuse in her very brief marriage, yet she finds that Gabriel awakens feelings she never thought to feel.

KING OF HEARTS takes Louisa and Gabriel on a journey from antagonism to partnership, to attraction, then to love.  I admit to feeling frustration with both of them at times throughout the story, yet I couldn’t help but love them and want their happy ever after.  The path there is filled with obstacles and adventures, but the arrival is very satisfying.  I particularly enjoyed Gabriel’s peace in coming to terms with his family history.  The secondary characters add some comic relief and some poignant stories of their own.  Eileen Putman is definitely an author I’ll read again.

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