Lady Anne Baldwin longs to break free from the proper strictures of society. To that end, she decides to indulge in a midnight ride, scandalously astride her horse in nothing but her undergarments. Her plan is foiled when she is caught by her uncle's handsome new stable master who arouses unfamiliar desires within her.
Merrick is a mere commoner, a bastard with no last name. He has pleasured many a lady of the ton who became bored with her husband, but Anne is not like those other women. She is an innocent who exudes sweetness, yet has a fondness for horses and a taste for adventure that matches his own. She calls to something within him that he has never felt before, but her presence also awakens another part of him he didn't know existed. Merrick always knew that he was different, but when his love for Anne turns him into a beast, he knows he cannot stay near her any longer. Yet it's her love for him that may be his saving grace.
After a mediocre showing on the previous book in the Wild Wulfs of London, The Forgotten One really got the series back on track for me. This historical paranormal novella mirrored the deep emotional connection I felt in the first two stories, as well as the exquisite sensuality. It also had the unusual distinction of the hero being a commoner, a mere stable master, who was also a bastard with no last name, while the heroine was a titled lady about to inherit her family's estate upon her twenty-first birthday. I ended up absolutely loving it.
Anne reminds me a lot of myself. She is the perfect blend of a sweet girl trying to be just a little naughty. She doesn't entirely succeed in her plan though, because she's a little too cautious to fully follow through with it. She adores horses and knows as much about them as many men do, but of course, being a lady, is not really allowed to have anything to do with them other than to ride, which she loves. She longs to be free of the strictures of society, and what she feels while riding gives her a taste of that freedom. The sensations Merrick arouses in her and the way he understands her and is willing to accept her eccentricities also makes her feel liberated. Anne is a young woman who has a positive attitude and tries to look on the bright side of things. She is also a very trusting soul who always sees the best in people. When she turns that implicit trust on Merrick, it nearly overwhelms him. The way she loves him with her whole being in spite of him being lowborn, and even after witnessing him turning into a beast, is really beautiful.
Merrick is an incredibly sexy hero. He knows exactly what to say and do to get a lady's motor humming. He has this lazy, devil-may-care attitude that's extremely appealing, yet underneath it all, he harbors some darkness and resentment toward the upper classes because of his father abandoning his mother. It doesn't take him long though to realize that Anne isn't like most aristocrats. I love how Merrick understands Anne in a way that no one else does. He encourages her to pursue her dreams and desires even if they aren't considered "proper." When Merrick discovers that his "gifts" go far beyond his wildest imaginings, he is understandably concerned for Anne's safety, but I was glad that in the end, he listened to her and trusted her instincts about his beastly side. His willingness to do anything for her was sweetly romantic.
The Forgotten One was another wonderfully sweet, yet deeply sensual romance. With three out of the four Wild Wulfs of London stories I've read so far being winners, the late Ronda Thompson has earned a spot on my favorite authors list. I'm really looking forward to the final book in the series, The Cursed One. The Forgotten One can be found in the anthology, Love at First Bite.
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