"Libertine's Kiss" by Judith James

Libertine's Kiss (Rakes and Rogues of the Restoration Book 1)

When William de Veres turns up at Elizabeth’s home late one night, she asks no questions, but instead takes him in, tends his wounds, and gives him one glorious night of passion. William never knew that Elizabeth’s act of charity cost her greatly. Once Cromwell’s men discover that Elizabeth gave aid to one of Charles’ cavaliers, they seize her family’s estates, thus forcing Elizabeth into an unwanted marriage in order to survive. As a widow, Elizabeth arrives in the Merry Monarch’s court hoping to convince the king to restore her lands. William, now Earl Rivers and the court’s official poet, knows he must help his old friend. He knows exactly how to repackage Elizabeth so that she can capture the king’s attention, but what this infamous libertine doesn't expect is that he will fall in love with his new creation instead.

This Seventeenth Century story, that unfolded as King Charles was in exile and then regained the throne, was very entertaining. The descriptions were wonderful. The explanations and bits of historical information at the end of the book were helpful as well. William and Elizabeth's budding friendship and vow of loyalty as children captured my heart. As the novel progressed, William totally captivated me. His character was one I could see portrayed by Johnny Depp or Robert Downey, Jr. He was wounded and scandalous, and used the darkness of his past as his muse to pen sarcastic and harsh poems to entertain the king. Beneath his overindulgent, womanizing surface beat the heart of a hero, and he needed but the reminder of Elizabeth's love to heal and transform him from his rakish ways... well, for the most part, after all, if he were completely good and free from demons he would lose his magnetism. Some of my favorite scenes were when he played at highwayman, robbing and kidnapping and yet he was oh so charming. Elizabeth had suffered much hardship as well, and tore at the pieces of William's emotional armor in search of "her" William - the one she had as a girl. Being widowed from an abusive man, she would not accept a proposal of marriage for the sake of what was easiest or most convenient. She would only marry for a love match, and demanded absolute faithfulness from a husband. Could William accept the terms, vanquish his demons and live happily ever after? Give Libertine's Kiss a read and find out.
I enjoyed this novel very much.


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