Feb 27 2014 12:00pm

First Look: Maire Claremont’s The Dark Affair (March 4, 2014)

Maire Claremont
The Dark Affair
Signet / March 4, 2014 / $7.99 print / $5.99 digital

Lady Margaret Cassidy left a life of nobility behind in Ireland, forsaking her grieving homeland to aid war-ravaged men in England. Still, she never expected a cruel turn of fate to lock her into an unwanted betrothal with one of her English patients—much less one as broken and dangerous as Viscount Powers.

Wrecked by his tragic past, Powers’ opiate-addled sanity hangs precariously in the balance, leaving him poised to destroy anyone who dares to utter the names of the wife and child he still so deeply mourns. So when he is forced to marry Margaret in exchange for freedom, he is shocked by the desire to earn her trust, her body, and—most alarming of all—her heart…

Maire Claremont’s Mad Passions books are dark and angst-ridden Victorian-era historical romances. The third book in this series is The Dark Affair, the story of opium-addicted Viscount Powers and Lady Margaret Cassidy, the woman who saves him. While much of the book centers on Powers’s addiction and recovery, the tone of this story is a bit lighter than its predecessors, but no less compelling.

When The Dark Affair opens, Viscount Powers is a patient in a sanatorium, having been institutionalized by his father, the Earl of Carlyle. Powers has let his need for opium overwhelm him and has been behaving in a manner not fit for one of his station. Worried about his son and his place in society, the earl is desperate to find a way to help his son. But Powers has violent episodes and doesn’t want to cooperate with the physicians. He doesn’t seem to care for life and despairs over his devastating losses.

Carlyle finds Lady Margaret Cassidy, a woman who has successfully worked with people battling addictions, to help his son. He is able to secure Margaret’s aide by offering to help her family and friends in Ireland who are suffering from the famine and economic devastation. Margaret is no stranger to working with the infirm and commits herself to helping Powers. Her life is just as complicated as that of Powers, but she also cares deeply about helping those in need.

Yet Margaret’s treatments don’t mesh with those of the doctors. As a result, she and Carlyle hatch a plan. If Margaret agrees to marry Powers, the earl will give her additional financial help. By this point, Margaret has learned that her brother is in serious trouble. While he may be an Irish peer, he has committed a crime and is in trouble with the authorities. Powers, on the other hand, agrees to the marriage in order to escape the asylum and the drug induced state they keep him in.

It is when Powers is released that the story heats up. Powers is in trouble and needs to make some major changes if he wants to regain control of his life. Carlyle is serious about committing his son permanently if Powers cannot conquer his addiction. His father and Margaret do not always agree about the best course of treatment, making Margaret’s job much harder. Powers does not want to return to the asylum, but he isn’t entirely sure he wants to face the reality of his life either.

As in the other books in this series, the romance develops slowly. After leaving the asylum, Powers has to deal with opium withdrawal and the physical consequences. He is also dealing with the emotional trauma of the loss of his wife and child—a blow from which he has never recovered, one which sent him down the path of opium addiction. He is attracted to his new wife, but never wants to experience the loss of loved ones ever again. Plus, Powers knows that Carlyle paid Margaret to be his wife.

There is so much pain and emotional turmoil in The Dark Affair. Most of it comes from Powers, a tortured hero who has never come to grips with the loss of his family. Margaret, however, has also had a life filled with suffering. These two lonely souls so desperately need each other and the comfort and passion they find in each other’s arms.

The Dark Affair is an intensely gripping romance. Can Powers overcome the pain of losing his wife and daughter? Can Margaret learn that there is a difference between being a nurse and being a wife? Can these two overcome the darkness to find their happily ever after? There is only one way to find the answers. Fortunately, the journey is well worth it.


Learn more or order a copy of The Dark Affair by Maire Claremont, out March 4:

Buy at AmazonBuy at Barnes & Noble



Jennifer Porter, a mild-mannered librarian by day, runs the review site Romance Novel News and is a compulsive romance reader. She has a tendency to live tweet her craziest reads as @JenniferRNN

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