I originally read “Trial by Desire” in June of 2011, but I decided to re-read it in audiobook form and return to the book because I really enjoyed it. Lady Kate and Ned were both wonderful characters to get to know in the mix of events. I loved the opening of the novel where the two are reunited after quite some time apart. It takes place after the events of “Proof of Seduction” – where Ned returns from his travels as a more mature gentleman, though left unspoken – he still has his own internal battles to fight against. Kate’s distraught because Ned left against her wishes, and she’s taken on a number of responsibilities in the time he’s been gone. The two reunite and come to terms with each other in the midst of a difficult situation involving Lady Harcroft and her husband. Lady Louisa Harcroft left her husband with her child to escape his torrential abuse, and Kate had helped her along in the process. Unfortunately, that help can only remain a secret for so long as Lord Harcroft starts to suspect Kate was involved in his wife’s disappearance.
I loved the development of the characters in this novel. Kate is a strong heroine who stands her ground and can fend for herself when faced with a number of difficult challenges. Ned has the right balance of strength and insecurity for a hero, making him identifiable as well as quite matured since the events of the previous novel. The way the two learn about how they’ve changed over the years and come to terms in their relationship is alluring and radiates with distinct emotional resonance. Even the conflict involving Lady Louisa and Lord Harcourt took on a vivid, contentious tone. The plot is well paced and engaging from beginning to end, while managing to take all of the perspectives and present them in ways that are engaging to read – sometimes humorous and lighthearted without being too quirky, while in others Milan shows the grief and inner/outer turmoils they wrestle with.
I definitely plan on reading more of Milan’s work in the future, and I would recommend reading “Trial By Desire” as a wonderful follow-up to “Proof of Seduction.”
Overall score: 4/5