Variously known as Earl of Wickham or Lord of Wicked, Anthony Craven knows the blackness of his soul. The inevitable ruin and evil he will unleash on the world should he ever try to wed and have children as normal men do--as good men do. Only the last faint tendril of decency makes him forswear good women to seek his pleasure with women like Cassandra, Lady of Sudbury, a woman whose lust and insatiable appetites match his own. With women like Cassandra fulfilling his every desire, Anthony expects he can avoid the marriage trap forever.
Until his twin brother Richard sends him to the bed of Cassandra’s cousin, the beauteous Melissa Goodly, and he obliges by taking her virginity.
Melissa Goodly knows the power of beauty; men line up to woo Cassandra, whose widowhood means she’s free from the constant pressure to wed. Melissa, a near double for her cousin in appearance, has spent a life being important to no one, and is seen by her brother Christopher as the means to an end--marrying her off to the Lord of Wicked will pay his debts and let him continue his dissolute life style.
Melissa’s courage in the face of inescapable truth-- a ruined woman marries or else--catches Anthony’s eye early on. But he cannot love a woman, refuses to bed his own wife--because he will not repeat the sins of his father. And he cannot forgive himself the youthful sins forced on him by the man who sired him.
Invitation to Ruin plays out in the ballrooms of England--as well as in slave markets and seedy harbors. Characters are well-drawn and memorable, and Baron Rothsay portrays cruelty and evil that are truly chilling. Depravity exists, and Evans portrays it unflinchingly, making the outcome of Anthony’s quest for redemption uncertain. Encounters between characters are sizzling and explicit, and delineates love from lust and passion from perversion.
I enjoyed Invitation to Ruin immensely, and will undoubtedly accept future ‘invitations’ from Ms. Evans.