This dramatic 1865 romance from promising debut author Claremont involves a classic love triangle: two orphans who’ve loved each other from childhood but promised their benefactor, Lord Carin, they would first and foremost be loyal to his son, Hamilton. For beautiful Eva, this means marrying Hamilton even though she doesn’t love him; for Ian, it means enlisting in the army to protect him, until Hamilton turns out to be irredeemably brutal. When Hamilton dies in India and Ian returns to England, he learns that Eva’s child has died in an accident, and she’s been committed to a madhouse after succumbing to grief. While determined to rescue her, he is unable to quell doubts about her sanity and concerns over the secrets in their past. For those who like tortured heroes and fragile heroines, Claremont delivers a tale of love, determination, scandal and plenty of angst that goes on long after the reader has guessed who the real villain is. Agent: Helen Breitwieser, Cornerstone Literary. (Feb.)
“The Dark Lady has as much romance, adventure, passion, torment, and triumph as any one love story could deliver.”—New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes
“Real, intelligent, and gritty but above all deeply romantic. In my opinion, Maíre Claremont is the stunning reincarnation of the Brontë sisters.”—Delilah Marvelle, award-winning author of Forever a Lady
“Will keep you hooked to the very last page.”—Anna Campbell, author of Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed
“Intense, bold, gripping, and passionate”—Leanna Renee Hieber, author of The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
Despite his best intentions, Lord Ian Blake has failed to keep either of his childhood best friends safe; now Hamilton is dead and beyond salvation, but Ian will do everything in his power to save Eva—Hamilton's widow and Ian's first love—from the asylum she's locked up in and from the dangerous people determined to keep her there. All his life, Ian has felt duty-bound to the man who raised him when his parents died; Lord Carin. In light of these perceived obligations, he has forsaken the woman he loves, stepping aside to let Eva marry her intended groom, Hamilton, Lord Carin's heir; he has traveled with Hamilton to India as a fellow army officer at Lord Carin's request; and now that both men are dead, he has sworn to protect Eva and her son, Adam. Returning to England, Ian finds that Eva is locked in an asylum and that Adam is dead. Extricating Eva from the brutal institution under false pretenses, Ian must find a way to keep her safe for good, while fighting his own feelings toward her. He failed to protect Hamilton from meeting a horrific end in India, and his guilt for that failure kept him from coming home sooner to help Eva, thus adding another layer of reproach to his conscience. He will save her from the clutches of the villains set on keeping her captive, but he can't allow himself to reach for what he really wants—Eva as his own. This is the debut novel from author Claremont, who weaves an absorbing, complex story through Victorian society, touching on some of the more disturbing aspects of the time. Overall, the character arcs and storytelling are compelling and well-executed, though there are some elements that don't hang quite true on the frame and undercut the complete success of the book. However, Claremont chooses to tackle a complicated plot and explore some dark facets of history with her debut—the first of a planned trilogy—and does so fairly well. Not perfect, but in general, an intense, compelling read with a rewarding "good conquers evil" ending.