Where to start? Well, having read the previous in the series, Betrayed, I knew what to expect. A full immersion into the world of Roman Britain, a beautiful connection between two characters and a well-written, satisfying story. I got all this and more with Tainted.
The biggest appeal in the beginning is Gawain. The beautiful Cambrian warrior. I'm a sucker for warrior type men. Big, beautiful bodies, strong, commanding tendencies and a real belief in duty and heritage. But Gawain is written so beautifully that his alpha male ways are never dampened by his moments of kindness and compassion. I dare you not to fall in love with him. And unlike a lot of alpha males, he's very aware of himself and his feelings. It takes him a while, admittedly, but admirably he accepts his love for Antonia and his determination to forge a future in a world that will seemingly never accept them is enough to tug on your heart strings.
And Antonia. Lovely, Antonia. She appears fragile, ethereal, beautiful. I find I'm quite a fan of these slightly delicate heroines that only reveal their strength to us as the story progresses. It makes a change from feisty, fiery tongued heroines. As much as I love them, strength can come from within and I admire a writer who recognises that. And as a reader, you immediately feel sympathy for her as we learn of the things she has endured during her time in Rome with the husband who has now abandoned her after she cannot deliver any sons to term.
What starts out as an extremely erotic, yet thoroughly sensual and beautiful relationship between Gawain and Antonia, soon turns into what I could quite easily class as epic love. It's the kind of story where everyone is against them and you can't see how they could possibly be together yet you yearn for it so much your heart aches. They come together very quickly but the chemistry is so intense and Antonia's reasonings so logical that is doesn't seem rushed and it's easy to see why they fall for each other. Both are strong characters in their own way, balancing out one another and both are able to laugh and love generously.
And if I sound too gushing, I do think I found myself a little impatient in the first chapters. There was a bit of push and pull between Gawain and Antonia and I urgently wanted to rush through it to get to the good stuff. But once this book has you in it's hold, it will not release you and I'm pretty sure Gawain and Antonia will stay with me for a long time.
If you like raw, erotic but romantic stories with a hero you are bound to fall for and heroine you can't help but admire, then I highly recommend Tainted. Ms. Phillips delivers the luxury of Rome, bound with the primitive earthiness of Celtic Britain and weaves a beautiful story of love that will play out perfectly in your head.
A dangerous love that Rome will never allow…
Driven by his failure to protect his king and embittered at losing the woman he loves, Celtic warrior Gawain despises the lust he feels for the beautiful Roman patrician, Antonia. She is everything he’s never wanted in a woman, yet she ignites his passion like no other. Despite the danger of discovery, he embarks on an illicit liaison with her, determined to uncover the reason for the infinite sorrow that haunts her eyes.
Newly arrived in Britannia from Rome, Antonia is inexplicably drawn to the cold, tough Celt whose touch stirs a desire she long thought dead at the hands of her brutal former husband. With Gawain, she learns the pleasure of sex and his unexpected tenderness thaws her frozen heart. But she hides a deadly secret that could be her undoing, and knows her growing feelings for him can lead nowhere. When a shadow from her past threatens her future, Antonia is torn between the Empire of her birth and betraying Gawain, the man she’s grown to love.
Inside Scoop: This medieval romance dabbles a wee bit in the paranormal.