Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Rating: 2
In Victorian London, Emma Hale leads two lives. As Le Petite Oiseau, in corset and pink feathers, she's the reigning queen of the music hall; offstage she's a prim-faced theatre seamstress. For years these two women have shared one body; now they share something else—forbidden love for a man who could destroy them both.
Marcus Craven, Duke of Penhale, wants Le Petite Oiseau as his mistress, but he's also sworn to hunt down and revenge himself on the hazel-eyed girl who once shot at him with a dueling pistol. On this winter's evening when he finds both women in his path, he suddenly faces a dilemma.
What exactly does Marcus want? The fiery, passionate actress or the quiet "mouse" hiding in her shadow?
Perhaps this notorious rake wants them both.
Ms. Fresina’s characters are refreshing to watch as they develop in this story. Twelve years ago, when she was sixteen, Emma Hale posed as her brother Edward to face the infamous Duke of Penhale, Marcus Craven in a duel. She shot at him wounding him, but when he discovered she was merely a girl she ran off. He vowed to kill her on sight if she ever came back to London. Her Uncle Philip who had managed her mother’s career as a singer and entertainer took the family to Paris.
In Paris, Uncle Philip transforms Emma into the glamorous and talented ‘Le Petit Oiseau’ a woman dressed as a bird with a costume of feathers who sings in a cage as she sweeps across the stage night after night. Now known as Holly O’Neil, an English theatre offers her a large amount of money to come and perform for them. Knowing it is risky, Emma takes the job. The men who come to watch her are intrigued by the woman of mystery and fantasy and they woo her in an attempt to claim her as their mistress. But she will have none of it. By day she is the mousy little Emma Hale, a seamstress; by night she is Holly O’Neil ‘Le Petit Oiseau’.
One night she sees Marcus Craven, the Duke of Penhale in the shadows of the theatre. He pursues her and they have sex in her dressing room. Thankfully he doesn’t recognize her, but she knows she is taking a huge risk. If he finds out her true identity as the young girl who shot at him twelve years ago, she fears what he will do to her. Although the risks are great, her desire for the rake mounts as each night he comes to her dressing room. He makes no qualms about his intentions to make her his mistress. Emma knows that she must resist because the risks are too high. However, she can’t help falling for the rake. Is she willing to risk everything for a man who can not be tamed? How can she resist him, when at his mere touch, she melts like butter?
She knows that portraying herself as both Holly and Emma, can’t end any way but badly. She knows that no one like the Duke of Penhale could ever love someone as meek and mild as Emma, especially after her behavior twelve years earlier. Furthermore, he only wants Holly. What will happens when he figures out who she really is? Will he kill her or will he follow his heart?
Ms. Fresina writes a wonderful story about two people on a journey to discover what the future holds after their pasts collide. Will Emma lose Marcus? Or will his desire for her be enough to intrigue him into following his passion?
4 1/2 Tea Cups!