Pride & Passion - Charlotte Featherstone My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

This book in CF’s Brethren Guardians series was much better than book #1, where the h Isabella drove me bonkers. Lucy was succeeding in doing that too... almost that is. Many a times, I was tempted to slap her or shake her to see reasons. How could she think that a handsome Duke, who wants her so much, isn’t good enough for her? Sometimes she would go a bit overboard with her rebellions and since Adrian was so sweet, passionate and a veritable gentleman, I felt pissed that she would not consider giving him a little benefit of doubt. Fortunately, she didn’t drag those for long like Isabella. Anyway, I’ll try to put my thoughts about their relationship and also what’s going on in the BG business with the other two guardians along with the notorious Orpheus himself.

1st a little recap. This series is about the descendents of three Brethren Guardians- Drake Sheldon, Sinjin York and Sinclair (name still unknown), who were the Templar Knights, given the responsibility to guard the pendant, the chalice and the magical scroll. Their descendents carried on with the responsibilities but recently, the club called the Masonic Club has become a general Gothic style club with Ton members vying to get an entry. Though there are other members or Masons, the real descendents- Jude Sheldon, the Earl of Black, Adrian York, the Duke of Sussex and Iain Sinclair, the Marquis of Alynwick have had their ‘initiations’ just the way their fathers did at their mid-teens, a process Jude long ago decided that his own son would never go through. Adrian, for his part, wasn’t too happy with it as well, the whys of which become clearer as the relationship he had with his father is revealed. Jude’s family guarded the pendant, Adrian’s the chalice and Iain’s guarded the scroll. Now, there is also a fourth guardian, who was thought to be dead but probably not and causing troubles for the real BGs. I’m still not sure who the Orpheus is; was he the fourth Knight Templar? It seems like there was a House of Orpheus, which caused troubles for Jude, Adrian and Iain’s fathers and was shut down by them. In this story, the new Orpheus is still causing troubles for them. He’s still bent on destroying the guardians and take his ‘rightful’ place in the world. Have to say, in the course of the story, some of this info was still hazy to me and I still don’t know why Orpheus is so hell-bent on destroying them. At this point, it’s not about the worldly power through the chalice, scroll and pendant because I sense something personal too. He is playing with the BGs and thinking he’s the boss. But he’s a cold and vile man for sure; I give examples as the go with my review. In the 1st book Seduction & Scandal, the trouble was about the pendant. And then there was Jude and Isabella’s shaky relationship where Isabella did almost everything to hurt and deny Jude ‘til the end and in the process made me want to scream in frustration. Jude was always amazing to her, even if a bit forward about his desire for her. Isabella was not a strong heroine and she didn’t have the confidence to deal with Jude’s attentions. She also had some past troubles that included her mother so she made a mess of things with him. But Jude never gave up his perusal of her because of another past incident between them that created a strange atmosphere for the story. I liked Jude a lot but Adrian was better. He had this complete devotion towards Lucy that I, for god’s sake, couldn’t understand why- until the end of the book that is. Lucy has been quite cranky and rude to Adrian for the most part but thankfully, some of her vulnerabilities I could understand so I wasn’t totally put off by her. This book doesn’t spend a lot of time recapping the past incidents but getting into the matter of Lucy and Adrian and starts from where book #1 left off.

In S&S, we were introduced to Lucy and Adrian so if you’ve read it, you’ll know a lot about the state of their relationship, if one can call it that. Lucy’s father is the Earl of Stonebrook, who has been a very callous and cold parent, as was her deceased mother. Lucy was always ignored by them, mostly because she wasn’t the most coveted ‘heir’ for her father and she had no other siblings. But she was always reminded of her station in life, along with the fact that someday she has to marry accordingly to keep up that station. Needless to say, a passionate and head-strong Lucy never liked those dictates. She grew up craving affection and acceptance, to be ‘something’ to her parents, which never came to pass. It seems like there was only one person she ever called a friend and had a crush on. This Gabriel, the butcher’s protégé was about 3/4 years older than her when she met him at 12. He was not someone her father would ever accept as her friend or anything else, so this little friendship and the crush she had on him was cut off in a very short time by Stonebrook. For a long time, I was not sure why Gabriel is such a part of Lucy’s thoughts, as we’ve never had any idea about him in S&S. Lucy never saw him again since the day when her father threw away a piece of wood carving Gabriel gave her and threw him out of their house. She missed him still and kept that gift still and cherished it. She grew up to be a flirtatious young woman but she keeps her façade so that no one delves inside and looks at her hurt and confused inner self. She took a lover too, some months ago but he died in a fire, or so she thought. Lucy was very vocal about Jude’s attraction to Isabella because as she’d seen in her parent’s passionless marriage, Lucy was scared that she’d never feel the passion she’d known with Thomas with another man again. And she was scared her life would be a copy of her parent’s. So Jude’s passionate perusal of Isabella found a good support from Lucy. Now that these two married (not sure when since I don’t think it’s been a long while since S&S), Lucy is happy for Isabella. But she’s also envious of her marital bliss and still despaired of never having such union. Then Lucy formed an addiction to séances and so on to communicate with Thomas’s spirit. In S&S, she was still rude to Adrian and ignoring him vehemently because she thought he saw her as a prize, a broodmare and yes, she was very convinced that Adrian is a prig. Lucy has no business with a prig, even though the said prig is a Duke; a very handsome and all powerful one at that! So yes, I was scared that she’d drive me bonkers too.

In S&S, in the end when the villain was killed, Adrian gave a chase to the murderer and found a piece of lace he immediately knew was Lucy’s. And the truth about Thomas was clarified to him. Adrian was hurt that Lucy had a lover and it got worse when she vowed to help her lover at all cost, even if that makes him her enemy. Note that I was still thinking why the f*ck does he care about her so much? WHY tolerate her churlish behavior? But there he was, still pining away for a woman who didn’t give a s*it about him. But, that didn’t make Adrian any less endearing to me. I love a hero who is very devoted to his heroine and Adrian was in love; it was plain from his actions when it concerned Lucy. But he didn’t give up on her. Lucy was still reeling from all the information about the Brethren Guardian business along with the fact that her dead lover came alive all of a sudden and might be on the wrong track, working with Orpheus. She can’t believe a thing Adrian told her. But it did bring her attentions to him and she begins to see him in different light, though she’d deny it with everything that’s of worth to her. We also see Adrian’s older sister Elizabeth, who’s blind from genetic problems but is as vivacious as a woman can be. She’s very beautiful, smart and graceful. Her blindness, it seems, has no grip on her bearing. But we also know from S&S that there’s something between her and Iain, Lord Alynwick; a past, about which we learn a great deal as well.

So, Adrian asks Elizabeth to help him with Lucy and information about her lover. Elizabeth knows Adrian’s obsession of her and supports wholeheartedly since she likes Lucy too. Here, we get to learn that she and Iain has been lovers a long time back, one night thing because she believed in his honeyed words, was swayed and had given her virginity to him. It was a painful read and I’m not at all impressed with Iain. He was a notorious rake to begin with, though he believes he does all this to ‘help’ the BGs. My arse! Anyway, there are a few scenes with Adrian and Lucy were quite beautiful; one was the scene in the same visit in the Sussex townhouse, in their orangery. Adrian was already making it a point to make his presence known to her with his words or maybe, as I said before, Lucy was only just taking notes of the depth of his interest in her so she’d be quite flustered by things he said. So in that scene, Adrian kisses her again and finally shows her the depth of his desire:

“Everywhere you are, I will be. Everywhere you go, I will go. I will follow you into your dreams, stay while you sleep, watch while you eat.”
That sinful bottom lip touched hers, then played with it, brushing it, tugging on it, parting her mouth as if he had all the time in the world to play and coax. “I will be the very air you breathe.”

Needless to say, it left Lucy with more conflicting thoughts. She wasn’t sure what to make of the Duke. Her father, of course, is up for this match and wants her to marry Adrian. So, she’s intrigued and yet she still kept on telling others, including Isabella that she doesn’t care a whit. Then the old Scottish fortuneteller told her that her destiny is with a man with a pair of gray eyes, eyes that Thomas does not possess. Eyes that the Duke certainly possesses (and she absolutely would not think it’s the Duke *shudder*) but those eyes look much different than that of his. Lucy, though she berates the fortuneteller as a two-timer, is very interested to know who this person is. And sometimes, even though she still won’t give into the thought, the Duke’s eyes give her the shivers too. Yah I know, it was very confusing lol. But she also would get jealous of a woman, a courtesan who came to a ball and very boldly talked to Adrian and touched him. She was positively fuming (with me giggling) thinking this is his paramour. But unbeknownst to her, Adrian hasn’t been with a woman for a long time, more than a year, since he’d set his eyes on Lucy. How can I not adore this man? Poor guy, burning inside with all the horny feelings for her and she thinks him a cold fish! That night, Adrian goes to meet with the woman named Anastasia. I was scared that he might give into his lust but he didn’t disappoint. More interesting information comes out of this meeting, revelations of Adrian’s past. He has a darker past that only his father and Anastasia know of. No, she’s not his mistress, has never been but not because she doesn’t want to be. She was actually his father’s mistress, coldly used by him. It was proved over and over again in the story that how emotionless and coldly calculating Adrian’s father was, who used anyone and everyone for his own gains. Anastasia was a poor girl of the East End and beautiful, caught his father’s eyes and served him for as long as the man lived. But if you read this scene, I actually came off respecting the woman a lot. She wasn’t graspy or greedy and she genuinely cared for Adrian’s father. Adrian took care of her ever since, more so since the woman knew about the BG business. In here, she tells him that she’s gotten an entrance to the House of Orpheus through one of her current paramours. It wasn’t revealed who this man was but from some clues I thought this might be Thomas. Adrian asks her to be careful and so on.

Lucy was also getting messages from Thomas to meet with him and come away. She already thought she saw him once in a shadowy corner while coming home from Sussex’s townhouse. Yah, I was scared that a love triangle is going to form here. But thankfully, it didn’t. From his meetings with Orpheus, it was already known that Thomas is indeed involved with him, though the guy doesn’t yet know that he’s also only a pawn to Orpheus’s nefarious plotting and would be gotten rid of when he’s done playing his part. Lucy came home from that ball enraged and a bit put off by Adrian’s ‘flaunting of his paramour’ when she gets Thomas’s latest message. She gives into the temptation of meeting with him, mostly because she wanted answers. And she wanted to know why he’d left her like that, kept her in the dark about the fact that he’s still living. But before she could, Adrian gets a hold of her and Thomas runs away. After that, Adrian takes her to the same house where he just met with Anastasia and starts interrogating her. The interrogation turned to something more intimate, of course. Adrian was a bit foxed so he didn’t hesitate to give her a little taste of the depth of his passion. It was hot! Lucy was left speechless because in her meetings with Thomas, she never experienced an orgasm. Yah! I was clucking, poor girl! And she thought that was a big passion? This definitely leaves her shocked. The next day, she gets a letter about something that Adrian has done which makes her mad again so she decides to pay him a visit. On her visit, she also sees Iain and Jude. In that same ball, Iain behaved abominably with Elizabeth, seeing her strolling and laughing with some earl. Adrian is mad about his reckless behavior because one of the BG code is that they are not supposed to show any sign of recognition in the public places, as he reminds Iain of this. Iain is reckless; he drinks a lot and is troubled no doubt. And his behavior, though harsh, spoke volume of his possessiveness about Elizabeth. But after what he’d done, he deserves a kick on his arse. Another thing that bugged me was how everyone was always calling him something like brutish or barbaric because he’s a highlander and so on. I don’t know because I LOVE Scottish/Highlander heroes so I couldn’t help but think he was being stigmatized for being a Highlander whenever he was careless. Anyway, back to the story, soon when Stonebrook also comes to this little gathering along with Elizabeth and Isabella, it’s known that all the letters were a game from Orpheus. I’m still quite hazy about what he wanted though. And then, Anastasia turns up dead in Adrian’s door with a note that warns him that ‘this could’ve been the red head’- Lucy. Adrian is very concerned for Lucy’s safety now and asks her to listen to his instructions.

Even though Adrian asked her not to go out alone, Lucy still goes to meet with that Scottish fortuneteller and got abducted later. It was Thomas. Funny thing is, they never actually saw each-other as they reunite. There was only one scene between them, in the carriage in which she was being abducted. Lucy was under drug-induced vapor. When Adrian hears of this, he goes insane. He, Jude and Iain venture into Orpheus’s club to rescue her. A few weird things happen here, as Thomas leads Lucy to a room. She was still a bit foggy from absinthe when she sees this man and it was the vision she saw when the fortuneteller hypnotized her. And she sees the pair of eyes too... Of course, it was Adrian and now, his eyes were full of passion. They kiss and fondle, I’m not sure what happened when suddenly Stonebrook, again, is upon them and catches them. Lucy is enraged when her father asks her to marry the duke posthaste. I thought this is going to lead to another of her obnoxious rebellions so I was telling myself if she does that even after all of Adrian’s demonstrations, I’ll kill her for sure! But she doesn’t. Though she was still pouting, she gives in. At some point, when Adrian meets with her, Lucy talks about her friend Gabriel to him and that she still misses him a lot and so on. They marry hastily and were on their way to Sussex country house. The weather was bad so they were forced to retire in some inn on the way.

This journey of theirs was full of revelations. In a few chapters we get to know what Adrian’s dark past holds, that he has a part Scottish heritage, that he was a bastard... there were more explosive ones of course which transformed Lucy’s total reproach of Adrian into such total affection and so soon that it was quite unbelievable for me. I know the reason can be termed as a good one but still, I was going like, is that really her talking to him? Even though they didn’t consummate the marriage at first but it was done soon. The love scene was also a bit hasty. I can only say it was hot but I wasn’t really expecting a love scene there. lol Then Orpheus does what he does best, kills Thomas... He is still planning something nefarious though I’m still not sure about his plans. As I said, hazy, these chapters were. Elizabeth was kidnapped in the end. Adrian and Jude thought Iain is a betrayer because he also disappeared with Elizabeth. But then, he shows up on their doorstep, all beaten up and begging them to help him find Elizabeth, confessing his love for her. So, things are definitely heating up for the final showdown. I don’t think Stonebrook was/is involved with Orpheus. There was a little hint of a man who might be Orpheus. He could be but we have to wait for Temptation & Twilight to reveal that to us. I can’t wait for that book! For Pride & Passion, 4 stars.