TWO FACES OF LOVE
Miss Susannah Logan felt very fortunate to have not one man but two gentlemen shepherding her through her first London season.
One was the cynical and brilliant Mr. Warwick Jones, whose wit and wealth gave him free entry into society and whose pretended scorn for women was matched only by the sensual intensity of his passion for them.
The other was the handsome and honorable Julian, Viscount Hazelton, whose fierce desire for an unobtainable beauty had led him to financial ruin but could not mar his irresistible good looks.
Warwick Jones and Julian were good friends until they took the inexperienced Miss Logan in hand... each leading her on a different path of love and passion toward a decision that threatened to intoxicate her flesh... and yield her ripe innocence to the one man whose tantalizing nearness she could no longer resist...
After having read the second in this trilogy thinking it was the first I just had to pick this one up and see what I had missed. I'm starting to think Layton used these books to stretch some boundaries. In the other book we had a hero who had been king of the underworld and in this one we have a heroine who comes from trade being disputed by 2 gentlemen. Once more it's all about the hero!
I can see why I. says Warwick it's her favourite hero of the 3 (even if I'm still partial to Arden). He is powerful and strong, but also sensitive, caring albeit too subtle to demonstrate all that. Julian, Viscount Hazelton is more open and is described as the most attractive man, a blond god of a hero he is totally in love with a woman he can't have. This book is about a love triangle, the back blurb of the book doesn't even allow you to understand who will be the hero. It's plain from the beginning that both Julian and Susannah have some growing up to do but while Susannah needs to understand her feelings better Julian will have some disappointments to deal with. Going in the opposite direction is Warwick who becomes more vulnerable as he falls for Susannah and I think he is the true star of the book. He never changes, is always supportive towards Susannah, is a friend to his friends and tries to protect everyone around him. Susannah's falling in love with him is more about her realising and understanding her feelings than Warwick doing anything to conquer her. There's a lot of introspection especially on Susannah and Warwick's part but I wouldn’t call it a slow book as there a little mystery added and even a villain to bring some excitement.
There were some things I found hard to believe like Julian being a Coachman because he was penniless, Susannah living in the same house as 2 gentleman she was not related to (even if with a chaperone), and Lady Marianna Moredon who kept being called Lady Moredon ! But in the end that did not detract from my enjoyment of the book.
Note: Terrible cover and totally wrong for the story told in the book.
What can I say? I've always cherished books with a strong male character, someone really interesting. And in this case, Warwick became my favorite Layton hero. A little cold and aloof towards people around him, very intelligent and funny in his own way, he is considered an excentric, but proves to be a faithful friend to the few who gained his trust. He has some traces of Dain's complex of “unbeautifulness” (and I'm talking of the more known character of Dain from Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase) – a rather ugly child that grew up near blondy-sparkling foster brothers and sister, developed a sort of obsession for blond people (really, I would have wished that Susannah was not blond, because it feels a little weird, honestly). But he is by far the most interesting character in this book. His love for the heroine is presented in a very nice way, it's impossible not to fall for him when you read about his self-considered impossible love. Pure tortured love, but sweet at the same time :)
Julian is the second hero in this book, a little immature, but charming in his own way. Although I read some years ago on Edith Layton's website that the reason why she began this series was a nocturnal ride in the park with a young and blond coachman that caught her attention, and from this we could assume that he is a central figure in the book, actually he is not. I see him there just to put Warwick in the spotlight, because it's obvious who has the most qualities.
Susannah. She's okay I guess, I'm not overly enthusiastic, but she does grow up during the course of the book. From the first infatuation for the godlike Julian to the more mature way of understanding the difference between infatuation and long-standing love.
The writing. This is Edith Layton. Who knows her style knows what I'm talking about. Who doesn't, then you will encounter many descriptions, many point of views (everyone has one, the florist, the cook, the passerby), she gets into everyone's lives and you get a very detailed view of the whole picture.
The book does have some flaws I suppose, but they don't come to mind right now and are quite minor. But the cover is one of them. Although usually the Signet covers are really nice and true to the book inside, in this case the hero's picture has nothing to do with reality. I regret that it's not available anymore a certain drawing on Edith Layton's old website that showed the author's image of Warwick. It showed a somehow haunted face, not beautiful by any stretch of imagination, but very interesting and unforgettable. That remained Warwick in my own mind.