Claiming the Courtesan

Tempt the Devil

Captive of Sin by Anna Campbell
(Avon Books, $6.99, R) ISBN 978-0-06-168428-9
Get ready because Captive of Sin is an unforgettable, gorgeous novel that is the best story, with the most captivating hero that I have read this year.

Sir Gideon Thevithick is a gentleman with a commanding manner.†When he comes across a beaten, courageous woman hiding at an inn, he immediately recognizes her terror and distrust, and promises to help her to safety.† Gideon doesnít believe the shabby tale the beautiful girl tells him about being set upon by footpads, but he admires her bold spirit and more than understands the brutality sheís obviously suffered.

Gideon is a national hero, called the Hero of Rhangapindhi.† Gideon traveled to India a hopeful man, young and fresh and talented. Recruited by the East India Company because of his talent with languages and swords, Gideon became a spy for England.†Just as he fell in love with India and its people, he was betrayed and the Nawab of Rangapindhi had him and two of his men captured.†They endured horrifying abuse and torture of every kind and only Gideon survived.† Now, months after his rescue, he lives in a new kind of hell, tormented by demons that have thrived in his mind since his captivity.†

The unlikely woman that Gideon rescued from the stable at the inn is Lady Charis Weston.† Charis will be the richest heiress in England in three weeks, when she reaches her twenty-first birthday and gains her inheritance.†Those three weeks stretch forward like an eternity, as Charisí cruel stepbrothers have tried to force her into an awful marriage with their gambling partner.† Felix and Hubert tried withholding food, locking her in her room, finally resorting to vicious beatings and threats of being drugged and raped.† After a particularly brutal beating, Charis managed to escape and run to the stable where she is found by Gideon.† Charis doesnít trust anyone, especially given the betrayal of her family and the magnitude of her impending fortune.†

So, thrown together by fate and Gideonís gallantry, Charis and Gideon travel to the Trevithickís abandoned family estate.† Charis feels a deep attraction to the reserved, enigmatic Gideon.† She wants to trust him but doesnít know if she can.†As the journey unfolds, she falls in love with him.†When Gideon is forced to propose a short marriage of convenience to protect Charis from her pursuing stepbrothers, she accepts with stars in her eyes.†

While secluded in Jersey after a quick ceremony, Charis soon learns that her new groom has very deep scars from his time in India Ė both physical and emotional.†Gideon canít stand to be touched, to be near people, to be sympathized with.†Charis begins to understand that the man sheís naively devoted her life to has some serious problems that she has no idea how to deal with, and that love may not solve all of lifeís problems.†

Bravo to Anna Campbell for writing compassionately about a truly tortured soul in a very compelling, honest and brave way.†Gideonís unspeakable trauma is clearly outlined.† While his captivity was absolutely grotesque, Campbell tells the story with humanity and dignity.†Gideonís unexpected sense of belonging upon arriving at his family home pops his self-imposed sheltering bubble, and he begins to reveal himself to Charis very slowly. Each thin layer that is stripped away reveals more of Gideonís terrible past and hopeless future.† Of course, each wound only makes Charis love and cherish him more.† Unfortunately, her love isnít the healing balm that she hopes.† Each time Charis looks at Gideon with love, he thinks she has a bad case of deluded hero worship and unfounded trust.

Charis wouldnít be able to survive her tumultuous encounter with Gideon without her pure, strong spirit and absolute willpower and honesty.† She conquers Gideonís fears with a sneaky combination of gentleness, honesty, willingness to listen, and sensuality.†Despite Charisí original blindness to the depth of Gideonís emotional distress, once she learns of his torment, she does all she can think of to ease him.† Charis comes into her own a few chapters into the story, from beaten, degraded waif to fully evolved woman.†

While Charis and Gideon are both strong characters separately, together they are pure magic.† Their love story is multi-faceted, at once hopeless and hopeful, horrific and beautiful.† The conflicts they face come entirely from Gideonís mind, making them much more difficult to solve than any predicable scenario.†Charis and Gideonís tentative exploration of their precarious bond is heartbreaking, romantic, and very fragile.

Pick up a copy of Captive of Sin and enjoy this unique love story.† You wonít regret it.†

--Amy Wroblewsky†††† †

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