It’s been a while since I’ve been back in the world of the Cynster Clan. I’ve missed them. A big fan of the original series (and you can read all about THAT here), I was so thrilled to hear that Stephanie Laurens was fulfilling every fan’s wish by writing the next generation of Cynster stories. I love even more than she started with Lucilla, Richard and Catriona’s daughter.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I was so enamored by the original family that I wasn’t sure how I’d feel moving onto the love stories of grown their children. However, when I read By Winter’s Light, Stephanie’s holiday novella, I knew that I was going to really enjoy reading Thomas and Lucilla fall in love.
Below is the book description (albeit a shortened version) and my review follows!
Thomas Carrick is a gentleman driven to control all aspects of his life. As the wealthy owner of Carrick Enterprises, located in bustling Glasgow, he is one of that city’s most eligible bachelors and fully intends to select an appropriate wife from the many young ladies paraded before him. He wants to take that necessary next step along his self-determined path, yet no young lady captures his eye, much less his attention…not in the way Lucilla Cynster had, and still did, even though she lives miles away.
For over two years, Thomas has avoided his clan’s estate because it borders Lucilla’s home, but disturbing reports from his clansmen force him to return to the countryside. Duty to the clan leaves Thomas no choice but to seek help from the last woman he wants to face.
Strong-willed and passionate, Lucilla has been waiting—increasingly impatiently—for Thomas to return and claim his rightful place by her side. She knows he is hers—her fated lover, husband, protector, and mate.
Lucilla sees that Thomas has yet to accept the inevitability of their union and, despite all, he can refuse her and walk away. But how can he ignore a bond such as theirs—one so much stronger than reason?
I remember being a young tween and wishing I could look into a crystal ball and see what life had in store for me. As someone who likes to plan and organize I would have felt reassured to know that good things awaited me in the future. Alas, while I did not have that luxury, our heroine, Lucilla Cynster, does. Since she met Thomas, and perhaps for a time before that, she has always know he is hers. Never wavering in her confidence, Lucilla takes advantage of the close proximity and unfortunate situations that bring Thomas back to his homelands and his clan in Scotland. Although resistant to Lucilla and his growing feelings, Thomas quickly recognizes the immediate chemistry and continues to tempt them both while bonding over trying to solve the unexplained and slightly bizarre happenings plaguing the Carrick clan. Of course, working together gives the couple ample opportunities to resist (and then to relent) to temptation, both physically and emotionally.
What I found so intriguing about this particular story is the confidence Lucilla has that Thomas is her one and only and that she is responsible for helping lead him (and them) down their destined path. This, of course, backfires, because who their right mind (man or woman) wants their life to be picked out for them without a say in the matter? But what was truly interesting was the difference between Lucilla and Thomas’ feelings. For example, with her unshakeable confidence and inner knowledge telling her Thomas is “it”, Lucilla’s path to love seems a bit easier from the outside. She’s open to falling in love and fully expects a partnership like the one her parents share. She is more concerned with how to help Thomas come to that realization than about examining whether or not he really feels the same way (or could feel the same way). It of course leads for a great plot as Lucilla has travelled so far down the road of love only to look back and see Thomas several paces behind. Thomas, on the other hand, has a long way to go before admitting he’s in love or even in like. Traumatized by his parents death at a young age, Thomas doesn’t expect, nor want, to fall in love with his wife. It’s an absurd idea. His fears are the main block between recognizing and accepting that the chemistry he shares with Lucilla is only an indication of so much more. With so many heroines and heroes across the romance genre doubting themselves and their feelings, it was a refreshing change to see a heroine who absolutely knew what she wanted, what was destined, and what would make her happy…
…Of course the fall for Lucilla when things don’t work out the way she intended (at least at first) is that much harder…and make the love shared between them that much sweeter.
I also have to say – that this book included some of the longest steamy scenes I’ve read in a while. So if you enjoy the steamy, this is definitely a book for you!
Personally, Marcus, Lucilla’s twin brother, stole the show for me. He is such an interesting and contemplative character and I can’t imagine spending all this time investing in a space and in a community and knowing that it’s not your final place – and he handles it with such grace – as far as we know! I’m also dying to know who is really behind all the attacks within the Carrick clan. Stephanie is letting that mystery linger until the next book, which is out in April.
Also – if you haven’t take the time to appreciate the cover art work – please do! I really loved the cover and inside artwork for this book.
Overall, Stephanie does a great job reintroducing us to the Cynster clan, while still letting us know that the next generation is going to be vastly different than the last. She breathes life into these characters and their stories. Considering we’ve moved from the Regency to the Victorian era, I’m really interested to see how these stories evolve for the London cousins and the rules by which they live and love.