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The Mad Baron by Summer Devon

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Mad Baron

Summer Devon
Historical Romance/Erotica
Published in 2011

H/h - Nathaniel Felston, Baron Felston/Florrie Cadero
Setting: Victorian era (unsure).

Read in Oct, 2012.
My rating:


                                              [spoiler alert]

Summer Devon’s The Mad Baron was quite an interesting read. Personally, I liked most of it, until those times when the h and H, Florrie and Nathaniel were trying my patience. I also had trouble connecting with the author’s writing style for a while, but I let it grow on me gradually. Let’s see if I can elaborate in my review.

Florrie is an orphan, her only relative is her brother, Duncan. Now Duncan is a total a$$hole. He’s a bit selfish, a bit impulsive, has weird ideas all the times and has no problem using Florrie’s ‘special’ skills to get his way. And if it involves money, Duncan becomes a fox. Well, I wanted to kick his sleazy arse more than once throughout the story. What ‘special’ skill, you ask? She climbs buildings! Yah, righto! She loves claiming buildings and the rush of adrenaline that comes with it. Now don’t ask me how a Victorian girl (I assumed the story was set in that era) learned the skill to climb buildings, because I don’t know the answers but it was interesting nonetheless. We don’t know much of Florrie’s background, but whatever was mentioned, it seems like she came from a loving family. Her father wasn’t wealthy, but a whimsical blacksmith, with a love of making swords and knives. When both their parents died, it was apparent that some people never paid the big amount Florrie’s father owned them, and he being the nice man, never asked. So now, Duncan’s plan is to take Florrie and steal the knives back so that they can sell them and get the money. They (by that I mean Florrie, Duncan never moved his arse from the ground) apparently did a few climbing before and have been successful. This time, they are in the country, near the country estate of Baron Felston, to get another knife made by their father. 

Florrie doesn’t like Duncan’s wheedling and all his moronic ‘big plans’ for them, still she is manipulated by him. This time, she decides, is the last time she’s going to listen to Duncan. Now the baron is known to be on his deathbed, a very hush hush situation. No one really knows what’s happening there actually. So, as planned, Florrie climbs the walls and lands in a room. From there, she ends up in another room searching for the knife. She immediately feels something’s not right. Someone was opening this room up but gets distracted and leaves the door open. Florrie’s curiosity gets her into trouble. In the room, she finds a bearded man only wearing a smallcloth, in a chain. Then he opens his eyes and starts talking weird stuff to her, that led her believe that the man is crazy. Florrie is at first scared… this part of the story is pretty hazy, made me confused a bit. After talking for a while, Florrie gets to learn that this IS the real Baron Felston, or Nathaniel; this handsome, strong (if a bit mad) man and not some weathered old curmudgeon. She also begins to realize something is, indeed, wrong and that Nathaniel is actually dosed with something and hallucinating. He’s a captive in his own home by someone’s orders. While talking, they share a kind of bond Florrie didn’t think she’d ever share with a man. Together they have some unlikely adventures, dodging Nathaniel’s captors. As the night falls, Florrie beings to understand she can’t flee this place, at least not now. But somehow, she’s not scared of Nathaniel anymore since he’d showed glimpses of his ‘real’ self, when he’s not in the haze of the addictive poison. As they talk (and I think because Nathaniel was in a haze, he was horny), they share kisses and fondlings, that turns into sex........ Umm well, told ya it’s confusing because all these happen in the first few pages. Nathaniel tries to be the gentleman, but Florrie tells him that she doesn’t expect to marry and so, can say goodbye to her virginity. Afterwards, they plan about how to free Nathaniel. Florrie is sympathetic and wants to help him anyway she can. At dawn, according to their plans, they struck one of the men who came to check up on Nathaniel down, and make their escape. As they run to relative safety, Nathaniel asks that he’d see Florrie back in London. But Florrie doesn’t want to meet him again. It hurts Nathaniel, and he really doesn’t want to let Florrie go just like that. So he extracts promise that if she’s pregnant, she’ll communicate with him as soon as possible.

Nathaniel gets help sooner than he thought from some of his close friends were looking for him. It’s been about a month since his disappearance. He’s also back to London soon enough. Then we get to see his fighting with the addiction. It was pretty tough and would sometimes touch your heart, and the other times, you’d just wanna shake him. But nonetheless, his fighting was admirable. And he wanted to find Florrie no matter what, so he put investigators to work on his case, as well on finding Florrie’s whereabouts. She, on the other hand, was also back in London but no more falling to the machination of her brother. Though Duncan the a$ still lives with her, he doesn’t do anything but scheme on his ‘big plans’ for them. Florrie now works in a shop. She had a plan to open their own antiquities shop, and she is trying to save money for it. I liked Florrie a lot, until the times she, just as Nathaniel, would get on my nerves. I’ll come to those points later.

As we learn more and more about Nathaniel, a sad history is revealed; his childhood. He had a loving father, who doted on him. But his mother was a totally different thing altogether. And when his father died leaving him young, Nathaniel’s uncle, Lord Bassett became his guardian. This man is a self-righteous prig and thinks only he knows the right and the wrongs in this world. He’s the man of God etc. etc. blah-di-blah. Nathaniel mother was already a cold b*tch, and becomes an iceberg after she gave into her brother’s preaching into self-righteousness. And so, Nathaniel’s lovely childhood transforms into one with vigorous punishments for littlest faults, admonished by his uncle. His mother never stopped the bastard when he would beat Nathaniel to bloody pulp. This shaped the grown up man today and Nathaniel learned to mask his emotions through his ‘trainings’. And it did become a pain a lot of the times in the story where Nathaniel was concerned. But, I felt for him, no doubt about it, even cried once or twice when these things were revealed, mostly through Nathaniel’s musings.

The investigator finds Florrie too, which was a blessing for Nathaniel. He wanted Florrie in his life and it’s not because he felt a sense of duty towards her. I just felt that he needed someone to hold onto, even though Nathaniel won’t admit it. He needed warmth and love of a woman, something he never had in his young life. He remembered that hazy night with Florrie and knew even then that he couldn’t do without her. This is why it hurt him when she declined to see him again. But Florrie treasured her independence more, a fact Nathaniel was aware of. She also knew that she and Nathaniel would never have a future, seeing their status. But, when he comes to pay a call to her in her shop, Florrie is breathless to see him in all his glory; neat and cleaned, no beard. She now knew that she didn’t imagine his good looks. Nathaniel has already been taken with Florrie’s charms, so I don’t think I have elaborate that he was more than elated to see her again. As they talk, Florrie confirms that she isn’t pregnant. Nathaniel has a plan to keep her with him this time. No, he knew that at this point marriage isn’t the solution (and he wanted to marry her no matter what), so he asks her to help him in the investigation with her special skill. Florrie at first balks at the idea, though she’s intrigued by the fact that she can be close to him if she takes the job. She is also a bit confused by this cold, formal stranger and the fact that it feels like nothing ever happened between them. Florrie refuses the job offer citing people are going to talk. Nathaniel doesn’t give up so easily though. He keeps giving her incentives, good wages and all that. Duncan gets the smell of this, and tries to make bargains with Nathaniel, though he handles the man easily.

Some parts of the story were spent on this; whether Florrie should take the job or not and how they would try to ignore this obvious attraction between them. It was beginning to frustrate me. Both would botch up their communication one way or the other. Nathaniel was smart, no matter what and hated to succumb to the after affects of his addiction, the deadly craving of the thing. He stopped taking the medicines that might help him temporarily but can’t be in the long run. He decides to fight on his own. This fact, that he’s so alone in his battle made my heart break. But the arse won’t come out and tell Florrie about his feelings. Florrie didn’t help the matter by continually refusing him. I didn’t like it at all because it hurt Nathaniel but couldn’t blame her as well because he was to blame partially for her actions. Both were eternally stubborn and confused about the next step. It was utterly frustrating!

In the meantime, Nathaniel had a suspicion that Bassett might be someway involved in his captivity and got to work. While making inquiries, he found proofs of Bassett’s not-so-holier-than-thou self, namely a hidden mistress. When he goes to meet the woman, she makes pass at him as she also was annoyed by Bassett’s hypocritical views and made it clear that she wants to break up. I was a bit apprehensive since Nathaniel has been horny most of the times (and he hasn’t been with anyone but Florrie, even though he could’ve been), he might give in. But he didn’t disappoint me. I totally admired this restraint.

At one point, Florrie finally caves in to help Nathaniel in the investigation. She just couldn’t get him out of her mind. And they also end up in bed, or in this case Nathaniel’s library carpet, together, more than once. They just couldn’t keep their hands off to each-other. It was very sexy IMO. When they were making love, it was palpable how good they fit together. But soon after it’s done, Nathaniel would revert to his cold self faster than a rocket and would confuse the hell outta Florrie (and me). Did I mention I was FRUSTRATED by his activities? But couldn’t blame him either because the whole thing was so ingrained in him that even he couldn’t help doing it. Later, Florrie even begged him not to turn into what he’s not. In the course of the story, more often than not, it felt like both were only trying to push each-other away with one action or the other... But I tell you that there were some really sexy scenes, one of that includes a hoooot bondage sex, another, much later, pure needy sex from Nathaniel. I got totally blown by those. Nathaniel could be a sexy sweetpea when he wished to be! Florrie already knew she was falling, but still confused about his feelings for her.

Florrie had an idea that she’s too passionate for a gentlewoman, and so, even though she came from a good family, she thought she’s not a ‘gentlewoman’ per say because of her physical needs. She thought hers was a bit abnormal since she loved having sex with Nathaniel. Well, I certainly didn’t mind their love-makings, not one of them. Soon, Nathaniel ends up proposing Florrie but he still doesn’t let her see that he REALLY wants her. His words and actions (out of bed) was still as misleading as ever. Florrie is, again, confused by the sudden proposal, her weird idea about her sexual needs and a bit more than scared that her heart would break if Nathaniel keeps being this cold man out of bed. I can see why she would feel this way! So she denies him at first. Frustration, frustration... more frustration! I got annoyed by this constant push and pull and wanted to tear my hair out a few times. In time though, Florrie helps Nathaniel find some proof from Bassett’s house. This climbing sets off Nathaniel’s alarm system about Florrie’s well-being. When she returns, he makes sure she knows that there would be no more climbing, ever, when they marry.

The meetings with Nathaniel’s mother were a revelation. The woman was cold as hell! No feelings for her son as she deems him a ‘disappointment’ all the freakin’ time! All she cares about are her brother’s wishes. It made me so sad for the poor baby. Nathaniel wasn’t scared of anyone anymore though, and so he makes it clear to her and Bassett that Florrie would be his wife, no matter what. Neither, of course, take this well and Bassett later pays a call at Florrie’s house. When Nathaniel hears of it, he’s immediately concerned about Florrie’s safety. With this, he convinces her that staying with him would be the best way to ensure her safety, and for this, they need to marry without delay... which they do. I assure you that Duncan was dancing a jig to this news!

I won’t go into the revelations of Nathaniel’s captivity and the villains behind it, but that, Florrie and his relationship was pretty stormy till the end. It wasn’t necessarily entertaining, as I’ve already mentioned; those parts of confusion, miscommunications, a little distrust and secretive activities. And yet, I knew that individually they cared for each-other very very much. I only wish the connection they shared on their very first meeting was consistent throughout the story. This is why I was also hovering between 3.5 and 4 stars. But I rounded up on 4 stars ultimately. Having said it all, I can assure you that I’m going to get a few more Summer Devon books later!

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I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. My blog Punya Reviews just turned 6 in 2017 and still going strong. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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