I can see where this book may have taken some readers by surprise. Carlyle pulls no punches while her protagonists examine their own emotions, and the characters are honest in their needs. I do think the sex scenes have been misunderstood by other reviewers who were offended by them. Cole and Jonet engage in some very active loveplay, and at one point, as Jonet is trying to help Cole exorcise painful memories, they indulge in some passionate bondage, but it is never degrading. At all points, the question of domination does not control. While Cole claims he is going to do what HE wants to Jonet, and states he wants her to "learn a little obedience", this worrisome dialog is countered by his complete failure to keep a straight face a few paragraphs later, when he can't help but laugh as he says "At least-- at least once in a while...Oh bloody hell, ...Who am I kidding?" They give and take pleasure as equals, and it is ALWAYS threaded through with something more, something deeper than the lust they both readily admit they feel.
I found it easy to believe these two LOVED each other, because they were the answer to each other's deepest emotional needs. And while Jonet's behavior was often shrewish, it was well-explained by the edge upon which she teetered. Her remorse afterward, and her scenes of touching care and kindness more than made up for her tantrums.
I fell in love with this book, and these characters. I liked Carlyle's previous book, and now look forward to her next one. A Woman Scorned is a treasure, to be enjoyed.
Jonet Rowland, the Marchioness of Mercer is lovely, rich, and—it is rumored—an unrepentant adulteress. And when her philandering husband is murdered in his own bed, it's whispered that Jonet is a femme fatale in more ways than one. It will take a dashing and honorable soldier to get Jonet out of this one. When his scheming uncle begs Captain Cole Amherst to investigate the death of his brother, Lord Mercer, Cole flatly refuses. But it is soon apparent that treachery stalks Lady Mercer’s two innocent children. A man of God and a scholar, Cole reluctantly plunges into the viper’s pit that is Jonet Rowland’s life, and finds that nothing could have prepared him for the lust she inspires...or the danger which surrounds them.