“Her father needed tending to first, the dazed look in his gray eyes telling her that he was not ready to answer all her questions, not even the one now screaming in her mind. Where is my son?”
Fiery redhead Cathryn Gryffin de Warrene arrives home to find her father beaten and her son taken by her dead husband’s brother, Morris. Without a second thought to her reputation, she flies to her six-year-old’s aid, hell-bent on retrieving her child from the villain who took him. When her horse is lamed, she takes out the revolver she carefully packed and steals a waiting carriage, little knowing it belongs to the notorious Orion Wherlocke. Or that it harbors his young son Giles. Desperate to save Alwyn, she finds out her mistake when she pauses to rest the overworked steeds and does not know what additional trouble she has to deal with for the unwitting kidnapping.
Orion Wherlocke is furious that someone has kidnapped his son, however inadvertently. He rushes to his rescue, only to find that the woman who stole his son also needs rescuing. Infuriatingly, she wants to proceed on the quest for her son without him, but Orion convinces her that he can track Morris and Alywn. As a member of the Wherlocke and Vaughn families, he is Gifted with preternatural abilities that enable him to find individuals.
“Oh, my father can do that. Finding people and things is one thing he is very, very good at.”
As they travel together, Orion learns that Alwyn also has demonstrated abilities to see spirits, although Catryn prefers to believe he is talking to imaginary friends. This is an ability shared by Wherlocke’s and their kin, making Orion believe that there may be a connection between her family and his. When Cat gets a premonition of danger, Orion is sure. Rescuing Alwyn becomes important not just because Giles pointed out that it’s the correct thing to do, or because he is inordinately attracted to Cat, but also because a Wherlocke always stands by his kin.
“Giving in to the temptation to bed her, even for one glorious night, could get him entangled in something he had long avoided: a relationship that was not the simple, enjoyable giving and taking of pleasure.”
Unravelling the mysteries of Alwyn’s abilities and Cat’s background, Orion and Cat’s growing attraction pulls them closer together, as they try to find a way to end Morris’ attacks. She is a woman who accepts his strange abilities, and deals with her own and her son’s powers. Their passion is fiery, but can Orion trust that they can avoid the historically terrible Wherlocke marriages? Especially since he figured himself a bachelor for life? And can Cat put herself in a vulnerable position again, with her first taste of desire after a passionless marriage? Can she put her trust in a man again, especially one so jaded and used to playing at love?
3.5 out of 5 Whatzits.
I enjoyed Hannah Howell’s “If He’s Daring,” even though it is a book farther in the series. She is able to draw you into Cat’s urgency and her need to find her child, as well as establish the motivation for the other Wherlocke family members. Cat is a woman of her time, widowed after a loveless marriage, she is more at peace when she meets Orion. Not a dominant force in her society, but not willing to let things happen to her or her child. That is why when she steals a coach and rides to save her son, you cheer for her gumption and applaud her taking matters into her own hands. Her desire for mysterious Orion is well played, and even though there is a large amount of internal dialogue (for both of them) as to whether they will act upon the mutual attraction, once they get together, their pairing makes sense. They meld and compliment each other, if only they look beyond what they are supposed to expect of a liaison on the road.
My one big concern was how Cat’s child was actually conceived, and though at first she seemed too accepting, or rather blamed herself (as if she had cuckolded her husband) the reveal is pretty… yuck. Rather than spoil the story, my recommendation is to read it through, and see at the end how the situation is treated. The initial presentation is lacking, but Hannah Howell deals with it better as we get to the end of the story. The developing powers of the Wherlockes and their kin, and the desire between Orion and Cat make for a fun read, and the Wherlockes and Vaughns are a fascinating family. A fun and intriguing paranormal, even as the conception of Cat’s child is uncomfortable. I look forward to reading the adventures of this intriguing clan.