The Libertine - Saskia Walker My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

At the end of book 1 of the series [b:The Harlot|15803204|The Harlot (Taskill Witches, #1)|Saskia Walker||14648124], it was clearly indicated that Jessie has long lost siblings and I was hoping to read their stories too. Since I liked that book, I was really glad to know about the news of the sequels. [b:The Libertine|15803764|The Libertine (Taskill Witches, #2)|Saskia Walker||18972580] is Jessie’s older brother, Lennox’s story. I can’t say the whole book was fun for me because on the first half, I thought every male in it is an a-hole, and that includes Lennox too. I was quite pissed. Let me tell you in my review exactly why. But, I did love the rest because the story picked up after that, and caught me by total surprise!

In book 1, we meet Jessie, who is born a witch and living a life of sin. She was torn apart from her siblings, her brother Lennox and twin Maisie when she was very young. Their mother came down from the Highlands in search of their father, who left them as he couldn’t take the truth of his family having these heathenish abilities. Sadly, their mother was captured and burned with the condemnation of practicing witchcraft. All the siblings were forced to watch this, and in their mind, this remains as a horrific memory till this day. They never knew any news of their father, but that he went to the sea as a sailor.

Jessie’s nature is different, and since she ran away from her abusive adoptive parents, she drifted and became a prostitute. She’s called the Harlot of Dundee, and it’s hinted that every guy knows her there. But whatever she was, I liked her because she was pretty honest about herself, and what her magic inspired. It wasn’t about making money but connected to her magical powers. Her magic is channeled through nature and the closer they are to nature, the better for them. Also, sex is a way of empowerment. The more sex they have, the more their magic grows stronger. In that regard, Jessie has no problem since she’s as lusty as they come. She meets Gregor in a crazy hullaballoo when she’s arrested in the witch-hunt. Gregor has already seen her, knows her reputation and wants her no doubt. He’s a lusty sailor too, and a good sport is always welcome. Jessie is a beauty, and she knows what she’s about. Gregor wants to have sex, but he has another use for her too. He wants her to work for him on a mission that is connected to his past. He will train her for it. Jessie tells him she wants to return to the Highlands where her own people still reside. She needs Gregor’s help and they struck a bargain. As they go about, it they have all kinds of adventures, physical, emotional, and finally, the mission Gregor wanted her to use for. There are brief M/M, M/F/F etc. too since both Jessie and Gregor aren’t offended by any of these. I liked this honesty and the fact that none of them strayed. They both stuck selfish bargain to use each-other mutually and yet, they begin to fall somewhere along the way. I also loved the back-story of the witch-hunt, whatever little there was. In the end, Jessie and Gregor flee the place right after Gregor’s problem is solved on their way to the Highlands. Gregor knew Jessie’s abilities by then about and wasn’t scared or offended by it. They plan to marry as soon as they found Jessie’s siblings and/or her clan there.

Although these books can be read as stand-alones, I recommend that you start from book 1, because you might feel lost if you don’t. Lennox or Maisie aren’t introduced in book 1, but only by mention from Jessie as she talks about them.

Book 2 takes places simultaneously with book 1. In another part of Scotland, Lennox was living with a small coven of his own. He has taken a new surname. Lennox has also run from the witch-hunters all his life, alongside tried his best to be accepted in the community under his disguise. He hated the so-called ‘normal’ people for being so mean to his people and the unnecessary bloodshed. Lennox takes revenge too, by sleeping with their women... and lots of them. As I already mentioned, sex is a vital part of their magic and Lennox being handsome and all, never has to go without. He seduces the married women, and drops them soon enough when he’s done with them. He likes the scandal that erupts after it’s found out and the way those men feel belittled by a heathen like him. He also has a slut among his coven, a girl whom he saved sometimes ago from a witch-hunt, much like the one that killed his mother. This is another of Lennox’s passions, saving people like him when they’re in trouble with the authority for practicing magic and is condemned to die. I can see why he was so vengeful, and his reasons behind being a manwhore, yet, I didn’t like the way he planned the downfall of those married women. I didn’t like that he had a convenient slut at his beck and call and the girl is infatuated with him, a hero-worship kind of thing.

I hated the way he planned to seduce and ditch Chloris, our heroine, just to spite her cousin Tamhas because he hated people like Lennox and wanted to see each of them die. He’s one of the town’s rich noblemen and is just waiting for a chance to do so. I still didn’t know what drove Chloris to be so desperate but she needed a child desperately. I could see a possible cheating scenario too since Lennox pretty much made her a target of his seduction and Chloris was showing all the signs of an easy conquest for him.

Chloris came to visit Tamhas and his wife for a while because her husband told her that she needed ‘rest’ which is supposedly meant to make her prepare for conceiving a child when she returns to Edinburgh. After her parents died, leaving her an orphan, a young Tamhas took Chloris in as his ward. He wasn’t a good guardian in any case because he wasn’t patient with her and when she was hitting puberty, the creep started making advances towards her. Chloris never was interested in him in that way, and so she fended off those. Then he wanted to marry her, which was also rebuffed by her. In the end, Tamhas made her a bargain chip for his own gain. He’s selfish, if not mean and used Chloris for a business partnership. The man, Gavin, married Chloris and Tamhas’s business partnership with him was secured. At first, Chloris’s marriage was good, and it was hinted that Gavin was friendly enough. But soon that changed when she failed have a child. It worsened each day, as Gavin became abusive, beating her to bloody pulp whenever he got angry about something. Chloris have been living in misery since then, but she has nowhere else to go. She was not welcomed here before because Tamhas’s wife, Jean knew of his obsession of Chloris, a thing not her fault to begin with. But that has changed a bit, and she seems friendly to her. Tamhas seems like a settled man, though he’s callous and emotionally distant as ever and Jean seems to cower when he’s angry, never defying his orders.

Chloris learns of the witches and their coven from one of the maids of the house. She knew of Tamhas’s distaste of them, and so she goes for a visit very discreetly in the hopes for a cure of her barren state. While Chloris thought she’d be talking to an elderly woman, she finds herself face to face with the coven leader, Lennox Fingal; a handsome and intense man with wickedly glittering blue eyes. Chloris is seduced by his charm on spot. Lennox did his best to manipulate her through his magic. It felt just wrong to me. He was bend on humiliating her and in the process, making a joke out of Tamhas.

I wanted to kick every single male of this story for being jerks! But there’s more and I’ll talk about those later.

Lennox manipulates Choris to invite him to her room in the Keavey house. He cloaks himself with magic and enters the place at night. He has been here before so he knows where to find Chloris, who was already very worried about this. How is it that she invited him here, where, if they’re found out together... Chloris can’t even think of the ramifications of this tryst. But she wants him, no doubt about that. Even though there’s no sex on their first meeting, the lure of seduction was aplenty. Lennox manipulates her well, and makes her promise to meet him in a secluded spot in the woods. Chloris does that the next day and yep, they end up having sex. Lennox channels nature’s power inside her to make her fertile, and his touch makes Chloris horny. It’s not that he was touching her in a sexual way but the power channeling through her would make her feel ‘ripe’ for... erm, you-know-what. She couldn’t understand this since Gavin the jerk probably never gave her an orgasm. Lennox tells her that she doesn’t really require any healing, and hints that the fault probably lies within her husband.

I wasn’t enjoying it thus far, mainly due to Lennox’s betrayal. And them ending up having sex felt so wrong in the wake of that betrayal. I started feeling for Chloris though, as the extent of her husband’s a$$hattyness came to the surface. Soon, I didn’t care that she was cheating because that husband of hers deserved all that and more. It’s revealed that the d*ck has already done that to her; taking a mistress a few years within their marriage. Chloris’s only usefulness is to provide him with an heir, for which he ‘visits’ her to do his duty. Now, if she can’t do it, Chloris has nothing to offer him, really. This is why she’s scared for her life. If she’s out of the way, the d*ck will have the excuse to take another wife... or take his mistress into his home. WOW, talk about a$$holes!!! Then, gradually, she started falling for Lennox, who was wooing her with charming, sweet words. I still didn’t know what to believe because Lennox’s history doesn’t make him anything less than a scoundrel in my eyes. ‘Normal’ women aren’t safe with him. I felt so bad for Chloris, it seemed like every male in her life was just intent on using her for their own purposes!

But this changed somewhere in the 50% of the story. Chloris and Lennox were having sex regularly in the same spot every morning. A big risk and even though Chloris tried to stop it at first, she is somewhat addicted to the kind of solace her time with Lennox brings to her. She is still scared for both of their lives, worried about Lennox’s intentions towards her. Of course, Chloris knew she being married and older than him make everything difficult, because now, she wants to be with him, but there’s no plausible way to be together. I also kept feeling that Lennox sensed the goodness inside her and was gradually changing his mind of his earlier plans to humiliate her. His feelings were somewhat mixed as well, not knowing how to act on it, except through sex. In between, Lennox was trying hard to gain a place in the community. Most people liked him, his coven members and their work. Lennox and the men of the coven built carriages for a living and their work is valued in the community for high quality. Tamhas tries his best to thwart Lennox’s entry in the community council, something that would give him official approval as a town member. Tamhas is also planning to take up the chance to find proof against him and hand him over to the authority. He remains insanely obsessed over this throughout the story, creating much trouble.

One day, Tamhas comes to Chloris, and propositions her, again, with something dirty. He would father a child with her, so that she can stay with Gavin. It would, of course, secure his business with the man. Chloris is aghast because just that day his wife announced that she’s pregnant again and declines his offer. Tamhas isn’t happy about this, her refusal of his offer.

Lennox meets Chloris again, soon, not knowing that she has decided to end their affair without informing him. Chloris was so scared for his life, she decides it’s for the best that she returns to Edinburgh. She’d forever cherish their time together. After they had sex, Lennox finds out exactly why she doesn’t want to be naked in front of him, preferring quickies. The marks of Gavin’s beatings were all over her back. Chloris feels humiliated that Lennox now knows of her humiliation. She runs from him, even though Lennox asks her to wait for him. He has already been trying to convince her that they can run away together to the Highlands. He knows he can’t live here any longer due to Tamhas’s threats. Lennox is only waiting for any news of his twin sisters, which reaches him very soon. When he gets the news of a witch being held in Dundee and her probable name being Jessie Taskill, Lennox rides hard to find her. Before that he leaves Chloris a letter explaining his actions. He asks his resident ex-slut (whom he’d left after meeting Chloris; the girl was jealous but later becomes resigned to his decision) to take it to Keavey’s house. Trouble ensues as Tamhas finds the girl and the letter. He’s now confirmed about a few things; one, his cousin is having an affair with that heathen he hates the most and two, the witchcraft that he always suspected they are involved in, is true. Tamhas is determined, once and for all, to have the lot arrested and see to their trials.

In Dundee, Lennox finds where Jessie was held. He can sense her too. It doesn’t bother him that Jessie was called the Harlot of Dundee. Even though it bothered me a lot, guess the way they spend their lives made it easier for Lennox. But he couldn’t find anything else on her whereabouts. When Lennox returns, he finds that Chloris has returned to her husband in Edinburgh and his own coven is preparing to leave the place because of the news of their imminent arrest. Lennox becomes anxious, but his concerns are mainly for Chloris after seeing the scars of her husband’s beating. And now, the time to depart has arrived. Lennox helps his people pack so that they can move in the cover of the night. He kept thinking about Chloris too as her return pained him. The girl confesses what happened and is ashamed of her failure but Lennox forgives her, asking her to go with the coven. Now Lennox has to make a decision. Will he leave with his people, or will he go to Chloris and save her? Guess you know what he did. He indeed rode to Edinburgh to find her. His people supported his decision, knowing this woman to be his soul mate.

But for Chloris, things weren’t going well. She returns earlier than expected and discovers her husband with his mistress... in the middle of shagging. She now understood why the servant girl was so uncomfortable to let her in because Gavin has brought the woman in their house, most probably to set her up here. It was also the reason behind sending her away. The servant girl also confirms that in the past, Gavin has brought his mistress in their home when she wasn’t around. But this doesn’t mean anything to Chloris because she’s is not the timid, scared wife anymore. Calmly, she goes in her room and locks the door. At night, she doesn’t let the creep in ‘to do his duty’. But not knowing where Lennox was, she didn’t know to whom to turn to.

On the way to Edinburgh is where Lennox finally meets Jessie and Gregor. I liked that scene, where the siblings sense each-other and meet after a long time. It was a little hard to believe that this Jessie was called The Harlot of Dundee because here she seemed different to me. They try catching up on everything but Lennox was in a hurry. Jessie demands to know what’s wrong and then, offers her help, along with Gergors, sensing that this woman means a lot to her elder brother. All three of them reach Edinburgh soon and device a plan so that Lennox and Chloris can meet. The plan is successful and Chloris can’t believe that Lennox is here, waiting for her! When they meet again, Lennox does botch things up a little when he blurts out how he initially wanted to use her. By now, I became sympathetic to Lennox’s plight and felt that his regards for Chloris was genuine. I felt bad when she’s hurt and runs out of the door. He was plain relieved to see her again, and just wasn’t thinking well. Poor guy!

Tamhas reaches Edinburgh tracking Lennox’s trail. He and his men have been scouring wherever the trail lead them. Tamhas’s goal was more personal, mainly targeting Lennox. He plans to inform Gavin, and convince him to punish Chloris and find out where Lennox is. But his plan goes a little awry when it becomes clear enough that Gavin wants Chloris out of the way too and this is the perfect opportunity! He immediately decides to hand her over to the authorities for having connection with the likes of Lennox Fingal. Even Tamhas is appalled by this, because he didn’t want Chloris hurt. For all his a$$hatty behavior, Tamhas didn’t want to kill or remove Chloris in anyway. As Chloris returns from visiting Lennox, Gavin begins taunting her. When she finds Tamhas and his men at the residence, she senses something is very wrong. She’s sure that Lennox is in big danger... What will she do now?

The ending was full of suspense. We get to see Lennox in action, magical to be precise. I totally loved how he saves Chloris from Gavin the d*ck and himself, from the men who were trying to arrest him. With Jessie and Gregor’s help, together they make their escape and set out for the Highlands immediately. Lennox knew that the members of his coven have already travelled there, so there’s nothing holding him in this place. But he’s over the top with happiness when Jessie informs them that Chloris is pregnant with his baby.

As I said before, these last few chapters were fast paced and pretty gripping. One thing that bugged me was Chloris’s married state. It was never confirmed if Gavin died or not... my guess is he didn’t. Lennox and Chloris talk about taking their vows in front of his people as soon as they reach the Highlands. But, that doesn’t mean they’d be married in the general sense. I don’t know, but other than that, I was pretty happy with how it ended. Now I’m off to find out what happened to Maisie in [b:The Jezebel|16000950|The Jezebel|Saskia Walker||19188516] and how she’s reunited with her siblings.

A solid 4 star.