The first in Warren's new series about three friends that find love with the women that have become their mistresses.
Lady Julianna Hawethorne is a widow that was forced to marry young to secure her family's financial future and now finds herself trying to save her family once again. Her younger brother has fallen with a bad crowd and has gambled their fortune away.
Rafe Pendragon holds her family's future in his hands since it's to the financier that her brother owes his debt. Julianna approaches Rafe to extend them more time to pay back the loan but he is man of business and is unmovable.
Rafe offers her a bargain he really never thought she would accept, be his mistress for 6 mo to cover the debt owed. But Julianna is no stranger to sacrifice for family and with a young sister at home about to debut in society, she agrees. What she didn't expect was that she would find that being Rafe Pendragon's mistress would be no sacrifice at all!
I found that this story was a bit similar to the previous story I had read The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt. Pendragon has earned his riches over the years but he had to fall to the bottom of the barrel before he could pull himself out. The illegitimate son of a Viscount, he knew he was loved but lived ostracized by society. When his father died, his half brother Burton St. George, Viscount Middleton, threw his mother out on the streets causing her death. That was not all he did, though... when St. George and his cronies beat and raped his betrothed they painted a bulls eye on their back and Rafe is determined to see each of them fall, paying for pushing his young love to suicide.
When Rafe finds himself falling in love with Julianna he fears that St. George will find out and harm her, so he pushes her away. This is were the second part of the book picks up, the more annoying part. Although the premise of the story is similar to Hoyt's Serpent Prince, that book became dark and torturous in the second half while this one was just full of lies, that turned into misunderstandings, which in turn lead to frustration for us.
After Rafe breaks things off, Julianna finds herself with child when previously thought barren and when Rafe finds out he takes her as wife but never tells Julianna why he had pushed her away, or that he cares for her or that he has an enemy, he just bulldozes her to do his bidding and expects her to do as he says. I realize this book suffered a lot due to the comparison with Hoyt's book so I needed to step back and look at it differently. I enjoyed the book and the storytelling had enough twists and turns to keep me interested until I turned the last page.