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This was a much darker book than I anticipated, but I enjoyed every minute of it! The first half is a struggle, if you're not used to books with serious subject matter. The reader gets a fairly detailed look at asylums in the late 1800s, which, if you know anything about how mental patients used to be treated, is very brutal and inhumane in many circumstances. I liked how the author took the modern-day PTSD and applied it to a situation outside of war as well. Many historical books only apply PTSD to war veterans, when in fact many people with PTSD have not gone through war but rather other traumatic experiences.
Anne Winton is a young, gifted woman who has been sent to Ballencrieff Hall to care for the the patients there. Upon arrival, she quickly find herself in the grasp of a madman who is introduced to her as the Mad Marquess, otherwise known as James Drake, Lord Devlin. Thought to be a madman in league with the devil, he certainly seems it at first glance. However, as Anne gets to know him, she finds herself falling in love with the tortured soul beneath the mask. While the circumstances aren't ideal for a romance, Anne and James find themselves helpless to stop their growing attraction. But the question remains: will James be able to fight his madness long enough to gain his freedom?
Anne was a fascinating character from the start. She was innocent but also seemed to be unafraid to act on her sensual impulses. In addition, the author added an element of the supernatural in giving Anne the ability to literally heal with her hands. It seemed a bit out of place, but not so much that the story lost flow or interest. Quiet, generous, and kind to her core, Anne was a character I had no problem supporting fully. James was a bit of a conflict for me at first, because I didn't understand where his madness was coming from. It was very disconcerting hearing the story from his point of view when he was battling his inner demons. However, as the story progressed and he became more lucid, I really liked James. He had a good heart and while he had made poor decisions in the past, he learned from them. His devotion and gentle handling of Anne was heartwarming and made the romance in the story blossom.
This was my first book by this author and I greatly enjoyed it! It was a unique, thrilling story that held my attention from start to finish.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**