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Ecstasy
Nicole Jordan
Ballantine
ISBN: 0804119791
October 2002
Historical Romance

Raven Kendrick vowed never to surrender her heart to passion. She had seen her mother mourn a lost love all her life and was determined to never follow in her footsteps by making that same mistake. An arranged marriage is exactly what she needs and she attracts the eye of the Duke of Halford. That he's more than twice her age makes no difference. He's titled and will provide her with a stable home and more importantly she won't feel alone anymore.

Things go array on the day of her wedding, though, when she's kidnapped by Sean Lasseter, who's seeking revenge for being rejected by Raven. Bound and drugged Raven is unaware of what's going on while Sean drinks himself into oblivion trying to gather the courage to carry out his threat. That's where his brother Kell enters. He manages to calm Sean down and takes the situation in hand, but finds himself desiring the beautiful and mysterious Raven Kendrick.

Knowing Sean's actions have undoubtedly ruined Raven's reputation, Kell offers her marriage. Reluctant, Raven agrees knowing she has no other choice as she finds herself the outcast that she'd always took great pains not to be. And to make matters worse, she's feeling things she's sworn she'd never feel as she takes up residence as Kell's wife.

Sean however becomes a ticking bomb and while Kell has success it cooling him each time he comes to the boil he can't know how disturbed he's become over the years, due to the sexual abuse he'd endured as a young child and that Kell was unable to protect him from. Things come to a head as Raven's life once again becomes endangered and brothers are pitted against each other, leaving Kell to choose betweem the two, which can destroy the new love that's grown between him and Raven.

Easily the best in Ms. Jordan's Notorious series. While there were a few elements I didn't care for, overall I found Raven and Kell to be two lost souls that connected and who brought out each others hidden needs, which they'd always kept hidden. The sexual abuse that Kell's brother endured, quite explicitly detailed later in the book, was something I found distasteful and not something I really cared to read about however it was pivotal to the storyline. That aside the only scene I objected to and felt could have been done differently was when Raven was struck. Heroine's getting physically abused is not in my vocabulary when I'm reading a romance. That negative aside, I really enjoyed this book for the suspense that built throughout the book to its explosive end, and the deep emotional connection between the hero and the heroine. A must in this readers eyes. Ms. Jordan by far gets better and better with each of her Notorious books. I look forward to the next installment.

Barb Hoeter, January 2003

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