Review – Forever a Lord by Delilah Marvelle

First of all, Merry Christmas!  I figured I should get this post up sooner rather than later, and I’ve got little else to do during this lull of the day.  My kids are exhausted after all the drama and excitement of a Christmas morning.  All is quiet.  It is, quite frankly, a glorious moment, and I will enjoy it for as long as it lasts (not long).

Cover image, Forever a Lord by Delilah Marvelle

I’ve forgotten to include the publisher’s blurb on the last few reviews I’ve done (oops…), but this time, I remembered!  Courtesy of Goodreads:

He’s a fighter, not a lover.
But that’s about to change…

Lady Imogene Norwood lives a sheltered life of quiet respectability and routine…until she debuts at her first Season. There among London’s elite she meets the wild and broken Lord Atwood. And the very shy English rose suddenly realizes that a little chaos might just be what her heart desires.

Lord Nathaniel James Atwood doesn’t believe true love exists. Since scandal tore him away from his family at an early age, he has spent his life fighting for what he wants. That attitude has made him a rising star in bare-knuckle boxing, and now leads him back to London to reclaim the life that was stolen from him. But upon meeting the innocent Imogene, his beliefs are trounced…as guarding his heart against her proves to be the fight of his life.

The first half of this book is incredibly good.  From page one, it grabbed my attention and treated me to a fast-moving, emotionally compelling story.  The character development of the major characters (Nathaniel, Imogene, and her brother Weston, in particular) is strong.  I loved the idea that both Nathaniel and Imogene were victims of the terrible power of secrets, that power ever stronger when the secret is not one’s own.

A good portion of this story revolves around bare-knuckled boxing.  I’ll just come out and say it: I do not understand boxing.  I can’t fathom why anyone would want to step into a ring and beat the crap out of someone else (or get the crap beat out of oneself) for glory and cash prizes.  It seems a phenomenally stupid endeavor, to me.  I really thought I’d skim through the boxing sections, but I didn’t.  Marvelle brought her research to life in a fascinating way, particularly when she discussed the world through Imogene’s point of view.  I still think boxing is a stupid thing to do (and an even more stupid thing to watch on PPV), but I enjoyed all of the boxing elements of this story because they so closely tie to Nathaniel’s character.  Thanks to good writing, I happily read about jabs and hooks and spurts of blood spraying all over the ring.  Well done, Delilah Marvelle!

The second half of the book is not quite as strong as the first–it skips ahead a bit too abruptly, and there is not quite enough conflict to move the story along — but I was still a mostly-happy reader when I reached the end.  There were a few strange side-stories that might have been explained/explored in the previous two books of this series — but I wouldn’t know, because this is the first book I’ve read by this author — and seemed out-of-place and bewildering to me, reading this book as a stand-alone.  Nearly everything that related to Matthew, a secondary character and friend of Nathaniel, was just strange and did not fit in with this story (I just checked Goodreads: Matthew’s story is book #2 in the series).  If I had read this series from the beginning, I’m sure I would have loved the little mentions here and there of characters that I already knew and loved.  But I read this book expecting a stand-alone story, and instead, my enjoyment of this book’s story was continually interrupted by all these little WTF moments.  Those interruptions negatively impacted my overall experience of the book.

Aside from the somewhat jarring moments when the other stories intersected this one in abrupt ways, I had a great time reading this story, and I recommend it to anyone who (1) enjoys romance novels and (2) wants an intense, emotional story (rather than a romp).  I am adding Marvelle to my ever-growing list of authors to watch.

Forever a Lord was released on December 18, 2012 by Harlequin HQN as a mass-market paperback and e-book.  If you are interested in learning more about the book, please click on the cover image above to visit the book’s page on Goodreads.  For more information about Delilah Marvelle, please visit her website.

*FTC Disclosure – I received an e-galley of this book from Harlequin HQN via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*