A Daring Hearts Novel , Book 2
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN-13:  978-1-455-50956-0
May 2013
Historical Romance

London, England – 1854

Sebastian Hall is back in London at the request of his brother Darius to find the plans for a cipher machine invented by a Monsieur Jacques Dupree.  Unfortunately, Monsieur Dupree died and sent all his plans and specifications to an apprentice, Mr. Granville Blake.  Sebastian agreed to help his brother and returned to England from the continent, mainly because of the death of his career.  Sebastian was a world renowned pianist, playing all over under the patronage of the Grand Duchess Irina.  That is, up until a year ago when the unthinkable happened—his right hand betrayed him by cramping, the muscles freezing like a claw, making him incapable of playing the piano.  A quack of a doctor performed surgery on him, and now his little finger sticks out at a weird angle and is worse than ever.  With nothing else to do and lacking money to pay his medical bills, the money Darius promises him will set him up again, unless he agrees to marry an acceptable women as his father, Lord Rushton, wishes.  Over three years ago Sebastian's mother ran off with a Russian army officer and divorced Lord Rushton, and the betrayal has hurt Sebastian and his brothers and sister.  When Sebastian meets Mr. Blake's niece, Clara Whitmore, he hopes to make friends with her and perhaps use her to find the plans.

Clara has been living with her uncle Granville ever since her husband died while hunting.  Her father accused her of killing her husband, and his will made her father, Lord Fairfax, guardian of her young son Andrew.  He might return Andrew if she would give him title to her husband's estate.  But the will states she cannot give or sell the estate, and Clara is at her wit's end thinking how to get Andrew back when her father won't even let her see him.  Uncle Granville is an inventor of automata, or mechanical toys that move and play music, and for some reason Sebastian seems very interested in her and Uncle Granville, but Clara is not easily tricked; she knows Sebastian wants something from her, just not what it is.

When Clara finds out what Sebastian is looking for, she suggests they marry if she can find the plans he is looking for, and help her get her son back.  Clara can give her estate to Sebastian, since he would be her husband, and he could give it to her father in return for custody of her son.  But nothing goes as she thinks, and soon she must balance her love for her son and her lies to her husband…which will take precedence in her life?

Nina Rowan has written a complex and heart-warming novel of motherly love, and also motherly desertion.  Told from Sebastian's and Clara's points of view, they each are coping with tragedy in their lives.  Sebastian with the loss of his career, and Clara her desperation to get her son back.  If that isn't enough, Sebastian is also dealing with his brother Darius trying to talk him into meeting his mother who is back in London to meet him after her husband was killed in battle.  The hurt her desertion caused him, his siblings, and his father is soul deep, and it's only with the peace and love of Clara that he even considers the idea.

There are plenty of secondary characters, including Lord Rushton, still stinging from his wife's divorce; Lord Fairfax, hiding a desperate secret; Sebastian's brother Darius; and Clara's son Andrew, the reason for everything that happens between Clara and Sebastian.

A PASSION FOR PLEASURE will draw you in with its intriguing story line and unique characters.  A PASSION FOR PLEASURE is the second in the Daring Hearts novels, following A STUDY IN SEDUCTION, the story of Sebastian's brother Alexander.  This is a fascinating and diverse family, and the next story is sure to be just as captivating as it reveals the story of Lady Talia Hall, Sebastian's sister.  I guarantee that meeting the Hunt family and Clara will give you many hours of enjoyable reading.

Carolyn Crisher