Galen Hawke returns to England a damaged man. He is not alone. He and his compatriots in captivity call themselves the “Jaded”  and for very good reason. Held captive in India by a mad Sultan and escaping by the skin of their teeth, he and his friends make their way back to their old lives, changed and bonded by their experiences.

This bond among the men leads Galen to exact revenge for one of his number who did not make it out alive. John Everly spoke of his love, Haley Moreland, in glowing terms, as he lay dying in Galen’s arms. And Galen makes a promise to look Haley up and convey John’s last words of love to her. Before he does that, he’s confronted with news reports of Haley’s return to society and her engagement, a mere eight months after John’s death.  Galen now has a set purpose back in his life. He means to seek Haley out, and ruin her in order to avenge her broken vows to John.

When Haley is swept off her feet by Galen (quite literally) she knows that she can no longer keep her engagement to Mr. Trumble; an engagement made in order to save her father from financial ruin. She falls in love with Galen Hawke and decides that she will  live her life to the fullest and take love where she can find it, until it all comes crashing down when she uncovers Galen’s scheme. By this time, the man of her dreams realizes that he’s fallen in love with his prey. Matters are made worse when Galen finds out that his dying friend had a penchant for exaggeration, for things were and are not as they seem.

I love Renee Bernard. Her characters are likable, the story lines are believable and the sex is usually smoking hot. This book is no exception. The main criticism I have is that this story sets up the remainder (there are five members of the “Jaded” in all, so there should be four more books in this series), and in so doing, it takes forever to really get into the rhythm of Galen and Haley’s story. Once there, after about 100 pages, the book flies, but it was tough slogging through the beginning.

Despite this, if you are a fan of historical romance novels, I would definitely hook onto this one. There will be four more stories in this series, and the remainder of the Jaded, as introduced in this novel, are truly romantic hero types.  You have the requisite rake, the creative mind,  the sensitive type and the broad shouldered leader of the group, all with their own stories to follow.  And if Ms. Bernard keeps writing those love scenes, a lot of good “fun” to look forward to. The next book in the series, Ashe Blackwell’s story(the requisite rake-his story is titled Seduction Wears Sapphires) is next, coming out in August 2010.

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