About the Book:
Title: Hidden Hart
Author: Emily Royal
Series: Headstrong Harts #3
Publication Date: Feb. 25, 2021
Publisher: Dragonblade Publishing, Inc.
Synopsis: A lasting friendship, a dream sacrificed, a life destroyed.
Major Devon Hart, the ultimate rake, had women flocking to his bed, until a street brawl four years ago left him scarred, inside and out. His once-handsome face now damaged beyond recognition, he remains hidden, except at night, when he dispenses his own brand of justice on the streets of London. He has nothing to live for except his friendship with Colonel Fossett, who saved his life, and his love for Lady Atalanta Grey, a woman he can only hope to admire from afar.
Lady Atalanta longs to be loved for something other than her wealth and beauty. Her life holds no excitement, until the night she’s set upon by thieves. The masked stranger who comes to her aid stirs delicious passions with tender words and scorching kisses, but he disappears before she can identify him.
Devon believes that Atalanta could never love the scarred, bitter man he’s become. But when Fossett asks for Devon’s help in wooing her, Devon must choose between sacrificing his dream of happiness, or betraying the man to whom he owes everything.
When a man has little to live for, will he sacrifice his dreams for the sake of a friend?
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A historical spin on Beauty and the Beast, Hidden Hart follows Devon, a man who believes he is not worthy of love, and Atalanta, the woman determined to prove him wrong. I loved this character-driven romance and was so excited to read Devon’s story. Devon appears in the first two books in the series, and I was intrigued by his mysterious and surly nature.
Scarred after a street brawl in which he saved a woman, Devon lives his life in the shadows. He can’t bear the stares, whispers, and horror from his peers and so lives on the fringe of society. Devon struggles with self-acceptance and doesn’t feel loved or worthy of love. He is a hero, and he doesn’t even see it. The only thing that gives him purpose is prowling the streets at night, protecting the innocent from danger. It almost feels like an atonement for his past mistakes to assuage himself of the guilt he feels from his philandering, rakish days.
You fear a cage – a cage fashioned by the expectations of your rank. And if I was worthy, I would open that cage and let you fly.
Lady Atalanta is a fantastic character. Much like Devon, she wears a mask, though hers is more difficult to see. She plays the part of the dutiful debutante, but inside she yearns for more. She wants to be a doctor but knows that societal constraints stand in her way. Though marriage offers her security, it also squelches her dreams. Atalanta is a strong, astute, and independent thinker who is much more thoughtful, caring, and tender than she reveals.
I love how unaffected Atalanta is by the manipulations of men. I also love how she fights for Devon and takes the more aggressive role as the story progresses. She knows what she wants, and she’s determined to prove to him how worthy he is of her love. Devon has given up on life, and it takes her fiery spirit and determination to reawaken him and give him a stronger sense of purpose.
Atalanta and Devon have a wonderful, chemistry-filled connection, and their feelings for each other run deep. Both Atalanta and Devon value the importance of what’s inside and not just physical appearance. Atalanta and Devon are surrounded by people who are quick to judge and gossip, and they are both hampered by their looks in different ways – Atalanta because she is incredibly beautiful, and Devon because he is scarred. Devon is one of the few people who see beyond Lady Atalanta’s beauty to the intelligent and caring woman within, and Lady Atalanta is one of the few who does not care about his scars. She sees the honorable and brave man beneath. This leads to a swoon-worthy, angst-filled, and captivating love story!
Finally, I want to comment on Atalanta’s parents, as they put their love for their child above all else. Atalanta has the opportunity to marry a Duke and to have security for the rest of her life. But she knows this arrangement lacks the love she desires. She also knows that she won’t be able to realize her dreams if she marries the Duke. Her parents, instead of pushing her toward this loveless union, encourage her to keep searching. They don’t pressure her, like much of society does, and their indulgences with Atalanta reveal how much they love her and how much they want to see her happy. Atalanta’s happiness is more important to them than any social pressures and expectations, which is refreshing.
This is the third book in the Headstrong Harts series, but it can be read as a standalone. The first two books in the series, What the Hart Wants and Queen of My Hart are both fantastic reads as well! Thanks so much to Netgalley, Dragonblade Publishing, and Emily Royal for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
- The romance!! Atalanta and Devon have a wonderful love story!!
- The supportive family.
Admiration from afar is not love. True love is a meeting of minds and souls.
Friends- true friends, love every part of you-your past indiscretions, your present afflictions, and your future fears.
If you value yourself, then others will see your worth.
I saw your soul the first time I laid eyes on you, and you have been in my dreams ever since.
This is the third book in the series but can be read as a standalone. The series is great for readers who love historical romance.