The latest offering of Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebels series dropped this week with The Scot Beds His Wife.
The Victorian Rebels series has had a hallmark of men built in the deepest, darkest parts of the Newgate prison and underworlds of London exacting revenge for the harms done to themselves and those they love. Their methods can be violent, brutal and they don’t take no for an answer. In the pursuit of righting the wrongs done by the powerful, they have become the power in the back alleys and the Highlands.
This is a series that began dark with the forging of an anti-hero in the accidental murder of a priest while protecting his sworn love. In trying to keep her safe, he is sent to the hell that is Newgate and left there to rot by his biological father. (The Highwayman) In this hell, he makes aligns himself with the deadliest assassin for hire (The Hunter) and these two later rule London with an iron grip. These men are strong enough to withstand the society that shapes them. Lucky for the reader, these men also meet their match in the women they are determined to protect.
These books are dark. They fit the times, and the darkness in these heroes. To give you an idea, here’s how it breaks down:
The Highwayman: murder an entire family except for the girl who will be your forced bride, child molestation by a priest and a complicit (?) nun
The Hunter: borrowing Herod’s approach to dealing with unwanted children by stealing all of the male children of a certain age after viciously killing the mothers
The Highlander: beating a bride and keeping her strictly for her dowry, committing a bride to an insane asylum where she is beaten and tortured daily before threatened with rape and has to hide away in the country to get away from her husband and his family, the genocide in India under the efforts of the East India Tea Company and Britain
The Duke: women being sold to cover their father’s debts, male chauvanistic disbelief that a woman might know a subject better than he does, a young woman might only marry an older man for money, sex workers and their offspring are worth less than other people
These are not pretty walks in the park and sweet nothings. We have kidnappings, rape, and mental illness being disguised as demonic possession. If you are looking for something light in contrast to hurricanes, deportations, earthquakes and genocide, this is not the series to pick up right now. However, if you are after some gritty realism with your romance, these are a well told tale. In reviewing the earlier books for this release, I was able to see how early on the references to characters in previous books or discover the next books heroine. Lovely Farah, who is a match for Blackwell in The Highwayman lived above a cafe that is a preferred luncheon spot for Millie in The Hunter. Millie in turn is protected by a secret told by the auburn-haired Mena. This causes her incarceration and subsequent rescue by the ladies and their men, who then send her off to hide under the watchful gaze of The Highlander. These ladies protect young Imogen from The Duke. The men are all interconnected as well, by blood instead of circumstances.
This bring us to Gavin St. James. In an effort to declare his independence from his half-brother and laird, he wants the land that he once roamed freely to be his in right. He tries to buy it first, and when that fails bids that it is forfeit and can be his by right of tending and asking nicely. Instead, he gets Sam. Sam is on the run from her past in America and granted sanctuary on the lands Gavin hopes to possess…as long as she poses as the rightful owner of the land, with the option of eventually being the owner in truth.
With these two we have an interesting dichotomy — Samantha is posing as Alison Ross and a legitimate land owner and cattle owner trying to make a name for herself, while Gavin St. James is the legitimate second son of the previous, unlamented Mackenzie laird who wants to make a name for himself separate from his legacy. Over and over I wanted to lock these two into a room and smack their heads together. He makes no qualms about the fact that he wants the land, but he stops short of explaining why he wants the land repeatedly when it would solve problems Sam has with him. Conversely, if Sam would explain who she really is to anyone it would help avoid the troubles that have come hunting her from the Wild West. And let’s not discuss how many times if they’d just actually admitted their feelings to themselves they’d be able to start to trust each other with these secrets….
What happens is that these two would have to be locked in a room to get a declaration from either, because they’ve been hurt so many times by everyone that it makes it hard for them to trust anyone. The back story for both is very well developed and layered, which makes your heart ache as the two work their way through the pitfalls of falling in love.
Looking to learn more or buy for yourself?