Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed
Grand Central / Sept. 25, 2012 / $5.99 print & digital
Desperate to save her sister’s life, Sidonie Forsythe has agreed to submit herself to a terrible fate: Beyond the foreboding walls of Castle Craven, a notorious, hideously scarred scoundrel will take her virtue over the course of seven sinful nights. Yet instead of a monster, she encounters a man like no other. And during this week, she comes to care for Jonas Merrick in ways that defy all logic-even as a dark secret she carries threatens them both.
Ruthless loner Jonas knows exactly who he is. Should he forget, even for a moment, the curse he bears, a mere glance in the mirror serves as an agonizing reminder. So when the lovely Sidonie turns up on his doorstep, her seduction is an even more delicious prospect than he originally planned. But the hardened outcast is soon moved by her innocent beauty, sharp wit, and surprising courage. Now as dangerous enemies gather at the gate to destroy them, can their new, fragile love survive?
I was excited when the opportunity arose to read a galley of Anna Campbell’s newest novel, Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed. I’m a longtime reader of Campbell’s romances; I thought her second novel, Untouched, was one of the most wildly over-the-top-enjoyable romances I’ve ever read. To me, her work has a touch of the Gothic with a modern, self-aware sensibility; it riffs on oppressive feelings of enclosure and family betrayal, and doesn’t shy away from emotions that are sometimes frighteningly intense. Often, her characters are dealing with unusual or extreme emotional issues; that trend continues to some degree in this book.
I think it’s the quality of extremity that makes Campbell’s work stand out. She takes chances, exploring the limits of her genre. Campbell’s characters are often dramatically swayed by their passions, physical and otherwise, but it works in the context Campbell creates for them. What might seem over-the-top in real life seems right and true in Campbell’s novels, and makes the books all the more involving.
Campbell prepares you from the very beginning of Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed for the tempests to come. The heroine, Sidonie Forsythe, arrives at the hero’s looming castle in a pounding rainstorm, prepared to hand over her virginity in exchange for payment of her beloved sister’s gambling debt. The hero, Jonas Merrick, seems to have stepped out of a classic Gothic of an earlier era. (Or perhaps an Anne Stuart historical!)
Jonas Merrick. Bastard offspring of scandal. Rich as Croesus. Power broker to the mighty. And the reprobate who tonight would use her body.
…nothing had prepared her for that ruined face.
…Hesitantly she lifted her gaze to her notorious host. Merrick wore boots, breeches and a white shirt, open at the neck. Sidonie tore her gaze from the shadowy hint of a muscled chest and made herself look at his face. Perhaps she’d detect a chink in his determination, some trace of pity to deter him from this appalling act. Closer inspection confirmed that hope was futile. A man ruthless enough to instigate this devil’s bargain wouldn’t relent now that his prize was within his grasp. Abundant coal black hair, longer than fashion decreed, tumbled across his high forehead. Prominent cheekbones. A square jaw indicating haughty self-confidence. Deep-set eyes focused on her with a bored expression that frightened her more than eagerness would have. He’d never have been handsome, even before some assailant in his mysterious past had sliced his commanding blade of a nose and his lean cheek. A scar as wide as her thumb ran from his ear to the corner of his mouth. Another thinner scar bisected one arrogant black eyebrow. A gesture of the graceful white hand curled around a heavy crystal goblet. In the candlelight, the ruby signet ring glittered malevolently. The claret and the ruby were the color of blood, Sidonie noticed, then wished to heaven she hadn’t.
“You’re late.” His voice was deep and as replete with ennui as his manner.
…Sidonie had expected to be frightened. She hadn’t expected to be angry as well. This man’s palpable lack of interest in his victim stirred outrage, powerful as a cleansing tide…“The weather disapproves of your nefarious schemes….”
Jonas and Sidonie are initially surprised and intrigued by each other, which quickly shifts their relationship from bitterly adversarial to reluctantly, and then less reluctantly, passionate. It’s not so easy as that for them, however. Despite the passion they feel, and the emotions they experience as they begin to learn each other’s flaws and weaknesses, the secrets Jonas and especially Sidonie are keeping loom over their budding attraction and result in some dramatic conflict.
If you haven’t tried Anna Campbell’s novels before, and are looking for a deeply emotional read, Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed might be for you.
Victoria Janssen is the author of three novels and numerous short stories. Her World War One-set Spice Brief is titled “Under Her Uniform” and is a tie-in to her novel The Moonlight Mistress. Follow her on Twitter: @victoriajanssen or find out more at victoriajanssen.com.