Maiden and the Monster (Unabridged)
by Michelle M. Pillow
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Vladamir of Kessen, Duke of Lakeshire Castle, is feared as a demon in the land of Wessex. The Kings have granted him a title of nobility in exchange for his part as a political prisoner. Discontent, he bides his time in his new home until war will once again rip through the land. But boredom soon turns to devious pleasure as the daughter of his most hated enemy is left for dead at his castle gate. Now the monster bides his time plotting revenge. Lady Eden of Hawks' Nest doesn't know what to think of the man who saved her life, but she can't wrench her thoughts away. His words are those of a tyrant, true to his vicious reputation, but his touch is that of a man, stirring passion and lust when there should only be fear. It would seem the infamous monster is not as monstrous as he appears.
AudioBook Review Stars Overall 5 Narration 5 Story 5
Vladimir is depressed and cranky, and takes no little pleasure in the fact that many of the castle’s servants and visitors are afraid of him: the differences in his speech, dress and rather imperious bearing combined with his hair-trigger temper are his weaponry against his involvement in life and the pleasure it could bring. Widowed some 6 years earlier, he has no patience for the gods of his own childhood or those of the new Christian religion he has converted to: merely halfheartedly nod at the conventions and wishes of the King. Scarred from a fire that took his family, his servants are afraid of him: his control and impatient nature.
Eden was dumped, beaten and near death in a pile of skins, entrails and dirt outside the front gates of Vladimir’s keep. A mystery to solve, for sure, combined with the rarer emotion of protectiveness and attraction keeps Vladimir curious about her appearance, even as his baser nature for revenge against her father is all consuming. Eden is able to see beneath the iron-fisted control and shuttered emotions to find the pain that is mostly hidden beneath his brashness.
There is a palpable attraction between the two, despite the discrepancy in their relationship: her desire to not return to her father’s house yet lack of fear from what he will do TO her shows her inner core of strength, and makes her all the more attractive and unusual for a woman of her day. His struggle to remain aloof and protect his heart against the desire and attraction that she is able to stir in him, after long believing his chances for a life with a woman long dead show the kindness and sense of regret that he has, despite his often cruelly voiced reactions.
This is a slower story, better suited to savoring and allowing the inflections so capably provided by the narration of Mason Lloyd to depict the emotional confusion and struggles that each character is experiencing. Lush details that fill out both the scenes and the scents of the story, as they provide a sense of the time to readers effectively display Vladimir’s differences to his Saxon neighbors, and delineate his high standards for his surroundings, even though he had spent the past year carefully cultivating an impression of disinterest to all but his harshly barked orders. It isn’t difficult to understand the attraction between the two, that understanding quickly turning to compassion and empathy until you are hoping that the two will speak clearly and open to the happiness awaiting them together.
Another cleverly crafted historic romance from Michelle M. Pillow that manages to incorporate a serious level of sexual tension before culmination for the two lead characters. There are accounts of less savory moments, although these are detailed with a sense of purpose, and the perpetrators do get to answer for their behavior. Mixing in historical details, dress and even approach to conversation keeps the story fully in its time, while being completely modern in description and imagery. I really did enjoy this AudioBook, and fans of the genre, who are seeking an era that is not predominant in the genre will, I believe, enjoy it as well.
I received an AudioBook copy from the author for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.