"People never know how special someone is until they leave, but maybe sometimes it's important to leave, so they are given that chance to see how special that someone really is!" ~ Unknown
David Lauriston of 'Provoked' by Joanna Chambers has worked hard and sacrificed a lot for his position as an advocate in Edinburg, Scotland. David is strong and brave and idealistic to a fault. The one thing he can't justify is his desire for other men and he hates himself for it. Understandably, his sexual encounters are few and far between, rushed, without emotion, and are always followed by extreme bouts of guilt and self-loathing. While staying in an inn on his way back to Edinburg, he meets Lord Murdo Balfour, who quickly guesses his proclivity and propositions him. Although their encounter is hurried, there is something compelling about Lord Murdo. Instead of a rough, quick release, David receives uncharacteristic consideration and respect that David has never gotten from another man. Everything about Lord Murdo feels different. Although David quickly tries to bury his unusual response to Lord Murdo, it proves to be much more difficult than he anticipates.
David has a nearly inflexible moral code that constantly conflicts with the reality of life. In some ways, it's a good characteristic making him a fair and honest person who loves his family and makes him careful not to dishonor them. But it also causes David to deny many thoughts and feelings he considers unachievable, i.e., falling in love or having a family of his own. With his “affliction”, as he calls it, David sees no practical reason to waste time dreaming about things he will never be able to have. Since David doesn't come from a wealthy family, he has to work harder to achieve success. Unlike his other experiences with men, David is unable to forget how it felt to be with Murdo. His mind plays those few moments over and over again making him wish for another meeting, even though it is highly unlikely their paths will ever cross again. No one is as surprised as David when he encounters Murdo again at a dinner at the home of his coworker and mentor, Mr. Chalmers. Even though David wants to be with Murdo again and is reasonably sure the feeling is mutual, he still has a battle raging inside of him which tells him he's wrong to want that to happen. In the end, David's physical desire and Murdo's charm and sensuality win out.
Murdo hasn't been able to forget David either, which is especially irritating to him since sex has always been a casual thing for him. Even so, Murdo can't help but be happy to see David again. There's no way Murdo is going to let David slip away without having another tryst with him. David is characteristically hesitant, but Murdo uses his multitude of charms and persuasion to convince David to come home with him. Murdo is determined to give David an incomparable physical experience, while also enjoying himself immensely in the process. Murdo has him doing things David has never even dreamed of while thoroughly enjoying himself as well. Murdo is satisfied with the knowledge that he's convinced David that sex can be deeply intimate and satisfying. Sadly, it's tempered with the knowledge that David still considers himself an abomination. In spite of himself, Murdo is becoming uncharacteristically overprotective, even jealous which is a surprise. Murdo, who is usually calm and collected, is shaken up by these feelings; he is not at all sure how to deal with them. With discomfort, Murdo admits that David is important to him and knows that no matter how idealistic and naïve his actions may seem, he means well. Murdo trusts David's judgement and is willing to help him with his endeavors.
This is a beautifully written historical romance which includes the political and social unrest of the Regency Era in Scotland. David and Murdo are interesting, well-wrought characters with a spark between them that threatened to catch my Kindle on fire. Their lovemaking sizzled with a sensuality that curled my toes. I admired David's love for his family. His honesty and integrity was beyond reproach, but he overthinks everything, resulting in enjoying very little in his life. Murdo was the bad boy incarnate, playing by his own rules and thumbing his nose at polite society. If you like historical romances involving intrigue, dishonesty, revolt, abuse of power, and passion, you may enjoy this story. Thank you, Joanna, for the informative, suspenseful, and passionate love story. I can't wait to read the next installment.