Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of London’s wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who’ve wronged him…and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception—and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands…
But Farah is no one’s puppet. She possesses a powerful secret—one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he’d long thought dead?
Essentially we have two young children who love each other fiercely but end up being cruelly torn apart. Farah has made a life for herself and when we catch up with her seventeen years later, she works as a clerk for Scotland Yard. A notorious criminal is brought in and it’s an event with cataclysmic consequences as the Blackheart of Ben More kidnaps Farah upon his release. Held hostage in the wilds of Scotland, Farah is offered a choice but she has expectations herself and no wish to simply roll over for anyone. A deal is struck, the battle lines drawn, and you just know it's going to be a fight that will take no prisoners!
I'm loathe to say too much as the synopsis does give quite a lot away. I liked Farah as she has used her brain and survived in the puritanical restraints that society thrust upon women. She has held firm to her vows to always love her first love Dougan, but her grief has kept her lonely. So imagine the horror when she finally contemplates perhaps pursuing a family of her own only to fall foul of Dorian.
There's a rather obvious secret here but it's dragged out almost until the end. Perhaps a little predictable but it's a romance so we do enjoy a happy ending. Dorian sees himself as ruined and unworthy. He is truly a tortured hero but he continually refuses to grow. Lost in his own personal hell, the maelstrom of his feelings torment him but his actions are quite honourable. Oh, he is a hard man, a killer but the years of abuse have shaped him to be someone that inspires loyalty from those who survived with him.
Here's where I confess, I really liked the supporting characters and thought they added greatly to the entertainment of this tale. We get servants/ associates who seem perhaps a wee bit too cliché but I didn't mind it. We are introduced to a chef that has suffered an injury leaving him less than he once was but the name Farah gives him just made me cringe. Then there’s the fact that Dorian has a right-hand man who is pretty open about something that polite society at that time would ignore. Actually I really like Murdoch and all his constant asides and chivying when he disapproved of Dorian’s actions. We even get a tart with a heart! So yes, the supporting characters helped bring levity into the story.
It's a romance, so yes there's sex here. Farah may be innocent in some things but having worked for Scotland Yard and indeed lived alone, she is far from pious. Dorian, however, has a huge issue with touch and does restrain Farah but it’s not really a bondage story.
So in conclusion, I did enjoy this book and would look for more by Ms Byrne. If I have any complaints, it's the title! If you are expecting a masked man to say "stand and deliver", you will be very disappointed I'm afraid. Dorian is a rogue, a bit of a thug, and a business man but in this tale he is most definitely not a highwayman!
I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.