This is the final book in Heath's "Lost Lords of Pembrook" trilogy. I thought it was the best of the three, but I was still a bit dissatisfied in the end.
The trilogy revolves around three brothers: Sebastian, Tristan, and Rafe. Sebastian and Tristan are twins and four years older than Rafe. When the twins were 14 and Rafe was 10 their uncle murdered their father -- the Duke of Pembrook -- and locked the boys in the tower with the intention of killing them as well. Their neighbor friend, Mary, helped them to escape. They ran away and split up. Sebastian, being the oldest, made the decisions. He left Rafe at a work house, sold Tristan to a ship's captain and bought himself a commission in the army. All of them suffered in various ways during their separation. Twelve years later, they came back together to take back what had been stolen from them.
Rafe's story always promised to be the most difficult. He was left behind, crying and begging his brother. He had been the pampered youngest and always felt an outsider with his brothers who were so close they knew each other's thoughts. His situation in the workhouse was abusive and, once he escaped, he did things of which he was extremely ashamed.
Evelyn Chambers is the illegitimate daughter of an Earl. When her mother died, he brought her to live with him, giving her all the love he never shared with his legitimate son. When he dies, his son promises to take care of her. He does this by planning to put her up for auction to any nobleman who will take her as his mistress. She, naturally, hasn't even heard of these plans, so she's a deer in the headlights.
Rafe takes one look at her, talks to her for about five seconds and snaps her up for himself. And so our story begins.
Evelyn (Evie) and Rafe have nice chemistry. She's innocent and naive, but she's also smart, compassionate and strong-willed. It's completely believable that Rafe would fall in love with her. It's believable that she would fall in love with him.
Everything is going along swimmingly until the end (this is the point where the first book in the trilogy unraveled a bit, too). It just doesn't make sense. When she leaves and goes to Sebastian and Mary, it's utterly bizarre that neither one of them at least visits Rafe to see how he's feeling about Evie's absence. It was baffling and completely unbelievable.
I was also disappointed in the resolution of the brothers' troubles with one another. I felt like there should be a more dramatic, or poignant, scene where they sort things out. In Heath's "Scoundrels of St. James" series, the backdrop of a rough childhood is also present, but it seems to be handled much better. I felt like that backdrop was made remote and glossed over, even though it's as important to the "Lost Lords" as their eventual love interests. Especially with Rafe. We had a couple of explanations of the horrible things that happened to him, but it all seemed removed from the story even though we've been told throughout that it's ever-present for him. Somehow there's a disconnect, and I think it was in the lack of concrete resolution between the brothers.
I love Lorraine Heath and I have enjoyed this trilogy despite some unfortunate flaws. I highly recommend her if you're a fan of historical romances.