Strictly Forbidden - Shelley Bradley Miss Kira Melbourne is anything but a proper English rose. Her exotic beauty, courtesy of her foreign mother, has marked her as an outsider, and her ghastly reputation as a woman of loose virtue has only added to that status. The victim of a devious viscount's horrible lies, Kira has the chance to redeem herself and become a member of polite society as the fiancée of a respected country clergyman. She'll finally have a place to belong...even if it's in the tepid arms of a man she doesn't love.

Gavin Daggett, Duke of Cropthorne, isn't about to let his naive country cousin marry a scandalous woman like Kira Melbourne. The solution is a simple one: Gavin will seduce the vixen and prove her unworthiness, thereby releasing his cousin from any obligation. But spending time with Kira is like awakening to a world of color and beauty, and it stirs the fiery desires Gavin has fought to suppress his entire life. Caught in his own dangerous game, sharing forbidden pleasure with Kira, Gavin knows that the price of loving her is high—and yet it is one that he will willingly pay...with every beat of his heart.

I love getting back to my reading roots. When I was a mere child of 11, Zebra Historicals were my poison of choice. I think I burnt out on them because it’s only recently that I have gotten back to enjoying a good historical romance. When I picked up this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I am a Shelley Bradley virgin. *teehee* But seriously, I am a huge Shayla Black fan so I figured it was time to enjoy her historical writing counterpart. Enjoy it, I did!

I felt so bad for Kira. Circumstances and conventions of the time made her life hell. She tries to stay strong, but the glimpses of her heartbreak were all the more poignant for it. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like for her back then. Not only is she vilified for something she didn’t do, but the fact that her mother is Persian was unacceptable for the times. Simple proof that bigotry and racism are alive and well in all times throughout history. When you add in the burden of class and ranking of the time, poor Kira never had a chance.

I really wanted to just beat Gavin, so many times. I thought he was a horrible snob of the worst sort for a good portion of the book. His issue with her foreign ancestry really cranked me. How could I love him as a hero when he couldn’t look past the color of her skin. I had to keep reminding myself it was a fact of the times and his upbringing. However, he has his own past burdens to bear. A scandalous childhood has formed him into the coldhearted man we see in this book. He is a proud man with the conviction that he must save his family from scandal. One other character I want to mention is Darius, Kira’s brother. I fell a little in love with him. The way he protects his sister at all costs is amazing.

This brings me around to what I loved about this book; the themes of family and what we will do to protect them. There are so many fabulous moments that illustrate this. Most of all, this book did a great job of making me feel. For me there is nothing better. When I can experience rage, heartbreak, jealousy, love, and even a few moments of gut wrenching danger, all in one book? That’s a win as far as I am concerned. Despite the fact that I wanted to hurt Gavin, I also wanted to hug Kira and flirt with Darius all while beating down a few of the judgmental bitches that call themselves Lady’s.

I think I will have to go back and find the book before this that tells the story of Gavin’s cousin, Strictly Seduction. It looks just as interesting!