Golden-haired Adonis, Lucien Fairchild, sixth Earl of Strathmore, earned the nickname Lucifer for his sharp mind and cleverness at the art of deception, skills he's put to use in service to his country as a spy during the Napoleonic war. Now on the trail of a suspected French sympathizer, he finds himself undercover, investigating a dissolute group of men known as the Hellions. In the course of his probe, he encounters a lovely young woman whose skills at deception equal his own. Lucien is frustrated at her seeming inability to tell the truth, and yet fascinated by her in ways he can't quite explain. Ever since tragically losing his family, including a beloved twin sister, he's been searching for the kind of bond he shared with her, and with this mysterious lady, he feels that sort of invisible force pulling them together. When he finally learns the truth of her mission, he will do anything to help her succeed, because she's already captured his heart.
Kit Travers is on a sensitive and perilous mission of her own, investigating the Hellions for personal reasons. Her constant change in identities is a necessary precaution due to the dangerous nature of the man she's trying to locate. It is in one of her many disguises, which she has undertaken to search the home of a Hellion, that she first meets Lucien. Even though she is masquerading as a lowly maid, he's surprisingly kind to her, but she dare not trust him because of the company he appears to keep. However, fate brings them together over and over again, and each time Lucien sees through Kit's various personae. With every new meeting, she finds herself more and more drawn to him until she can't help but finally tell him the truth behind her many faces, and she's relieved to discover an ally in her mission whom she can genuinely trust. But the men they're after are even more dangerous than they would have imagined, which places both their lives and the precious new connection they've found in one another in jeopardy.
Dancing on the Wind is the second book in Mary Jo Putney's Fallen Angels series about four inseparable school chums who grew up to become known by that collective nickname. I really enjoyed Thunder & Roses, the first book of the series, so I was a little appalled to discover that it's taken me two years to pick up the second. I'm very glad I finally did, because I liked it even better. This one is the story of Lucien, the Fallen Angel who earned the nickname Lucifer for his golden-haired good looks. Lucien was a spy throughout the Napoleonic war, and even though Napoleon has been defeated, he has intelligence that there may be a French sympathizer among the British nobility. He's set the task of seeking that person out and believes that they may be a member of the infamous Hellions, a group of dissolute nobles who've revived the traditions of the earlier Hellfire Club. He's in the process of trying to infiltrate their ranks when a mysterious young woman crosses his path. Lucien feels drawn to her, and as he investigates, he keeps running into her again and again with her in a different disguise each time they meet. Both fascinated and frustrated by her, he can't seem to help wanting to see more of her, and puts his investigative skills to use in doing just that. When he finally pries the truth out of her, he discovers that she is on an equally sensitive mission, so they join forces in a race against time to save the person she loves most in the world. But Lucien fears that regardless of whether they are successful, it may end up destroying the fragile but precious bond they've created.
Lucien lost his parents and twin sister in a tragic accident and became the new earl when he was merely eleven. It was only with the support of his three best friends throughout all the years since that he's been able to remain sane. But even they cannot replace the deep emotional bond he shared with his twin. He's been searching for that same bond with a woman ever since and hasn't yet found it. Although he has a reputation for being a rake, in reality, he lives a mostly celibate life. The sense of loss he feels after coupling with a woman sends him into a painful depression, so he only does it when the need for human contact becomes too strong to resist. From the moment he meets Kit, he feels an irresistible force drawing them together, and though he quickly realizes she's been anything but forthcoming with him, he can't help wanting to see her again. Luckily fate is on his side, but it takes several meetings before he finally gets the truth out of her. Once he does, his protective instincts kick in and he wants nothing more than to help her in her quest. Lucien is a very intelligent, observant, and intuitive man, skills that have made him a top-notch spy. Even when Kit is in her various disguises he always knows it's her, and even though she's dishonest with him multiple times, he still senses a woman worthy of pursuit and is eventually rewarded for his patience and trust in her. Lucien intrigued me from the start, and I loved him for his honor and gallantry. Even when he's undercover, playing the Hellions' games, he never goes too far and deftly manages to get out of some sticky situations. His hobby of designing and building mechanical toys was quite endearing. Lucien was a truly heroic romance hero, who is the perfect mix of a brave warrior and a man with a tender heart.
Kit is investigating the Hellions for her own reasons, which is how she and Lucien initially meet at the home of one of the Hellions. She's pretending to be a maid in order to search the house, while Lucien is doing his own form of investigating by trying to get into the Hellions' good graces. From the minute they meet, she's extremely tempted by him, but she cannot allow the attraction to get in the way of her mission. Not to mention, since he's trying to join the Hellions, she doesn't think she can trust him at first. Kit is a master of disguises, showing up all over London playing different roles, and each time, somehow she ends up in the same places Lucien is. With each meeting, she sees something new in him and gradually begins to trust him, while his allure grows more and more irresistible until she finally gives in, offering herself to him fully and telling him everything. From there she finally feels she has an ally in her fight who will back her up, but insecurities from the past keep her from fully having faith in their bond. Kit is a character I can't say much about without giving away some major spoilers. It's so much more fun for the reader to follow along and try to figure out what she's really up to, so I won't give any of that away. She's a strong woman to do the things she's been doing, and she draws some of that strength from an unusual source. Still, she has a hard time seeing herself that way. Kit is definitely not your run-of-the-mill romance heroine and she utterly fascinated me. She's a chameleon who sometimes almost fooled me in the same way she nearly fooled Lucien more than once, but in spite of her dishonesty, she exhibits a certain vulnerability that made me like her anyway. She's likely to rank pretty high on my favorite romance heroines list if for no other reason than her uniqueness to the genre.
Dancing on the Wind was a joy to read, in large part because it's quite different than a lot of other romances I've read. Both Lucien and Kit grabbed my attention from the very beginning and didn't let go. There's a great deal of action and intrigue that keeps the plot moving along at a nice pace. The romance between these two was very emotional and heartfelt, with each of them finally finding that special connection they'd been looking for and hadn't found. There's also a slight touch of the paranormal in the form of psychic bonds and divination. I also appreciated the author's attention to historical details that helped bring the narrative alive. All the other Fallen Angels put in appearances, including Nicholas (Thunder & Roses) and Rafe who'll be the hero of the next book, Petals in the Storm. But the real stand-out who helps to save the day is Michael who will be the hero of Book #5, Shattered Rainbows. I very much look forward to reading these other characters' stories, so I'll definitely have to move this series up my TBR list. And with two keepers in a row, Mary Jo Putney has also earned a spot on my favorite authors list.
Note: This book contains drug use and non-consensual sexual activities (not between the H/h) that include BDSM interactions. While IMHO these scenes were as tastefully done as they could be, they may distress and/or offend more sensitive readers.
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