Title: Beguiled (Enlightenment #2)
Author: Joanna Chambers
Release Date: April 23, 2017
Genre(s): Historical Romance
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Page Count: 226
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Two years after his last encounter with cynical nobleman Lord Murdo Balfour, David Lauriston accidentally meets him again in the heart of Edinburgh.
King George IV is about to make his first visit to Edinburgh and Murdo has been sent North by his politician father to represent his aristocratic family at the celebrations.
David and Murdo’s last parting was painful—and on Murdo’s part, bitter—but Murdo’s feelings seem to have mellowed in the intervening years. So much so, that he suggests to David that they enjoy each other’s company during Murdo’s stay in the capital. Despite his initial reservations, David cannot put Murdo’s proposal from his mind, and soon find himself at Murdo’s door—and in his arms.
But other figures from David’s past are converging on the city, and as the pomp and ceremony of the King’s visit unfolds around them, David is drawn into a chain of events that will threaten everything: his career, his wellbeing, and the fragile bond that, despite David’s best intentions, is growing between him and Murdo.
Life was easier sometimes when you didn’t know what you were missing.
It has been two years since Lord Balfour and David parted ways in London. It’s 1822 and all of Edinburgh is preparing for King George’s visit to Scotland – the first in almost 200 years – and Sir Walter Scott (of Ivanhoe and Rob Roy fame) has organized an extravagant bit of theater for the visit decreeing all citizen dress in specific colors, with kilts or other authentic Highland dress required for the Grand Ball. As a result, David finds himself hurrying to an appointment with a tailor, where he meets Murdo Balfour.
Murdo regrets how they parted and tells David he wants to see him again. David, for his part, feels more settled, more comfortable with his attraction to Murdo, “as though all the jumbled parts of himself had been set right overnight.” Their attraction for one another is as fiery and passionate as before, but now there’s a new element:
And what pleasure. These kisses. The intimacy of them. The rough of Murdo’s chin scraping his own, the give of his lips. His tongue, teasing the corner of David’s mouth and the feel of his smile—lips curving up against David’s. David opened his eyes at that smile, just in time to see Murdo’s own lashes flutter open. And, the shock, the shock and the pleasure of meeting a gaze that expressed so perfectly what David felt at this moment: wonder, pleasure…unexpected affection.
Chambers balances each character’s idea of marriage and the amount of trust and intimacy in a relationship, and that fuels the action of the story. Because he cannot commit his heart to a woman, David has decided to never marry, while Murdo is still planning to “eventually marry, while continuing to enjoy male lovers at his whim.” Elizabeth Chambers has wed in haste to a horrid man who according to the law owns her as property.
I love the richness of the character development in Beguiled, the way David and Murdo’s relationship has become something deeper and more meaningful to each man, and because I’m a total history geek, I love Chambers’ intelligent take on the complex issues affecting England and Scotland at the time of the Late Enlightenment period. Beguiled isn’t a complete cliffhanger, but after the plot’s quick-paced resolution, we are left with the threads of a possible future for David and Murdo, as well as Elizabeth, and I cannot wait to begin Enlightened. I highly recommend this book – 5 stars!