Slightly Tempted (Bedwyn Family Series)

Slightly Tempted - Mary Balogh I like that not only are each of the Bedwyn's unique, but their stories are unique as well. While Freya's is reminiscent of Kit's story in "A Summer to Remember", hers was the only one to bring in similar elements.This is Morgan's story, and it's definitely all her own. She's the only one of the Bedwyn clan without the well-known Bedwyn hook nose. She's the one considered to be a classic beauty, like their mother. And she's the one who just had her first Season, being only 18 years old. But we've seen that Morgan is unlike her brothers and sisters in other ways, too. She's the artist, who doesn't just paint what she sees, but what she feels... what she senses is underneath what she's painting. Morgan seems to be very attune to others' feelings, even those they're trying to hide. Morgan enjoys solitude -- some time to herself. As her brother Aidan says, Morgan doesn't need constant noise and movement about her all the time.So it's no shock to discover at the beginning of this book, that Morgan is not in England. Nor will the first part of her story take place in England. No, rather she's in Belgium during the time when Napoleon had escaped his exile and was threatening to come against the Allies once again. He's expected to storm Belgium at any time. And the British soldiers and officers are saying, as most of the untried ones do on the eve of a war, that the whole thing will be over in a matter of weeks. Morgan is there being chaperoned by Lady C, whose daughter is a particular friend of Morgan's, and whose son Lord Gordon is pursuing Morgan.Enter Gervase Ashford, Earl of Rosthorn. Gervase was exiled to the Continent nine years ago, accused of debauching and then robbing Lady Marianne at the ball where Marianne's betrothal to Morgan's eldest brother Lord Wulfric Bedwyn (a Duke) was to be announced. Somehow, Wulfric, Marianne's father, and Gervase's father were led to Marianne's bedchamber, where Gervase and Marianne were caught in bed together. And then a family heirloom broach was discovered missing the following day. Marianne swore that Gervase took her against her will and then stole the broach. Gervase was banished from his home by his very own father and told never to return. So Gervase has a particular quarrel with Wulfric Bedwyn. He's been looking for a way to get his revenge for the past nine years. And so, he thinks that Morgan has given him the perfect opportunity -- he'll seduce her or at least besmirch her reputation.What follows may contain spoilers, so I'll tag it as such. Read at your own risk, if you haven't already finished the book: But Morgan is a Bedwyn through-and-through. She goes toe-to-toe with Gervase, unafraid of him, but also unaware of the reason for his exile and her brother Wulf's part in it. Morgan is incensed that no one will talk plainly of the coming battle to her; only Gervase, who does so to gain an advantage with Morgan. But he finds himself beginning to like her for herself, and beginning to feel guilty for using her as part of his revenge scheme. And then Napoleon and his French troops truly do begin the battle at Waterloo. Lord Gordon dashes off with his cavalry unit, asking Morgan's permission to fight the war in her honor, as if he were some knight asking for a maiden's favor before a joust. During the battle, Morgan cannot just wait... so she seeks out a captain's wife that she knows and helps the officers' wives prepare for the wounded and then nurse the wounded and dying. Lord G is found to have a broken leg and a few other injuries, which his mother hysterically tends to, and then decides that she cannot trust foreign surgeons and must take her son and the family home to England now. After waiting until the battle actually began, because her son was fighting. Now she insists that Morgan go with them. But Morgan flatly refuses. Morgan's youngest brother Alleyne (a few years older than she is) is also in Belgium, attached to the diplomatic corps. Morgan saw him just that morning, on his way to deliver an important message to the Duke of Wellington in the thick of the battle. Alleyne told her that when he (Alleyne) returns, he will personally drag Morgan off to England. So Morgan tries to reason with Lord G and his family, only to be told that she's spoiled and very selfish!!! Suffice it to say that Gervase steps in and takes Morgan to the captain's wife's home, where she continues her nursing. Gervase does his best to locate Alleyne or word of him. In the meantime, he spends time alone with Morgan (her nurse fled Belgium, too), taking her for walks in the sunshine and away from the wounded. During this time, Morgan feels as if Gervase is her only true friend -- he listens, he doesn't demand, he does his best to help her, and he doesn't try to assure her that Alleyne is alive and all is well. In fact, when the diplomatic office find the return message that Alleyne was to have delivered among the mess of the battlefield, and it's certain that Alleyne is dead, Gervase hires a maid for Morgan and takes her back to England himself -- even though he knows what his reception will be. But just before that, Morgan comes to Gervase, devasted by grief, and ends up giving him her virginity. It's a mutual thing, except that Gervase realizes that he's not attempting revenge at all anymore -- he simply wants to take away Morgan's grief.Wulfric has, of course, heard Lady C's slander and complaints against Morgan, which included slander against Gervase, too. He's on his way to get Morgan, himself, when he encounters Morgan and Gervase, fresh off the boat. Morgan senses that there's a story here, but no one will tell her what it is. Yet seeing Wulfric again rekindles Gervase's desire for revenge, so he sets himself to the task of compromising Morgan's reputation once again, so that his suit cannot be turned down. Except that Morgan does turn him down, after hearing Wulf's side of the story, and demanding that Gervase tell her his. When he refuses, she starts to put it all together and confronts Gervase, demanding that he ask for her hand again. And this time, she accepts, telling him that she'll make him fall in love with her and then break his heart and the engagement.And so... we go into Act III, with Morgan and her family (except for Wulf) headed off to Gervase's estates, supposedly as Gervase's betrothed. But once Morgan learns the truth behind Gervase's exile, will she stop doubting her feelings and Gervase's? Will Morgan truly break the engagement or be the only Bedwyn to be married in a loveless match?-------------------I was so incensed with Lord G and his family! Calling Morgan selfish, when Lady C insisted on remaining behind. She took no real responsibility for Morgan whatsoever. And to be part of spreading the gossip and scandal was unconscionable!I thought it might be tedious watching Morgan and Gervase work through their Big Misunderstanding. And I couldn't help but feel sorry for Morgan and irritated at Gervase, when he insisted on practically mocking her... why he couldn't be more open with her... I suppose one could say that he was hiding behind his mask. But I wasn't sure if they could overcome the trust issue.And the final revelation about what happened that night and why Marianne did what she did... Who her accomplice was wasn't hard to guess; but the WHY wasn't quite what I expected. The final scene was deliberately written to make readers demand the next book.... I'm just glad I don't have to wait to read it!