Katiebabs is a self-proclaimed present day bluestocking with her head always in a book. She runs her own book blog called Babbling about Books and More!
The Veiled Heart (The Velvet Basement #1) by new-to-me author, Elsa Holland is a steamy and hot Victorian romance that has a slight comparison to Robin Schone, but it's not as dark and disturbing as Schone's historical romances tended to be. The heroine has endured a marriage to a sadistic and psychotic man who enjoyed hurting her just for his pleasure. The hero is the complete opposite of her dead evil husband, who shows the heroine that sex can be very pleasurable and enjoyable. Elsa Holland can sure write some uber hot love scenes! *fans self*
Miriam has been a widow for three years. Society believed she had a fairy tale marriage and an incredible love match with her husband, Freddy. Her marriage was a nightmare. Freddy was abusive and cruel toward her. His sadism almost destroyed her. Miriam had no one to turn to for help, not even her brother who we find out blackmailed Freddy into marrying Miriam in order to have access to his fortune. Freddy might be dead, by Miriam is still not free. It's expected for her to remarry, and she feels she will never enjoy sex because of the horrendous things Freddy did to her. Miriam helps other unfortunate women- prostitutes who have no choice but to have sex without protection. Miriam is on a mission to give the prostitutes in the brothels, and on the streets, condoms, aka sheaths. She ends up at a store that sells them including other sexual items. There she comes in contact with a man who wants one of the sheaths in the box she buys. This mysterious handsome stranger has signaled her out specifically. He is Max, who once offered for Miriam before Freddy (she had no idea). He was also friends with Freddy as a boy and in school (or so society believes). He has targeted Miriam because he wants to claim Miriam as his own.
Miriam is wary of this handsome well dressed stranger who says he's a mechanic. She allows him in her carriage and will give him one of the sheaths if he shows her how he uses it. It's a blatant proposition from Miriam because she wants to experience sex so she doesn't feel empty inside. Her mechanic, who eventually tells her he is Max (he calls her Lily because she's doesn't tell him her name right away) gives Miriam the best sexual experience she has ever had. From them on she seeks Max out, and they have a secret torrid affair. Max becomes her protector as he helps her meet with prostitutes in the underbelly of London. But Max wants much more. He wants to marry Miriam and cherish and love her as she deserves. But that means telling her the truth. The problem is that Miriam hates his alter-ego, a respected peer of the realm who was close friends with Freddy. She assumes Max is as sadistic as Freddy was. Max has to gain Miriam's trust and hopefully her love, so when she finds out the truth about him, she won't hate him.
The Veiled Heart packs quite the punch in terms of emotion and character dimension. Miriam is the tortured soul here, but a survivor. Max is a dream of a hero, a gentleman in public, but a tiger under the sheets. He gives Miriam everything she wants, offering his heart to her, knowing she may reject him forever because of his association with Freddy. There's also a another twist in their relationship that's very sweet. The way Max avenges Miriam is wonderful.
If you like steamy historical romances with a great couple, and heavy subject matter that will make your heart skip in your throat, do pick up The Veiled Heart. It's one of my favorite historical romances I've read this year.