September 22, 2011

Aidan York has spent ten years mourning the woman he once loved and lost. He's filled the void in the only way he knows—by distracting himself with wild behavior and scandalous trysts. It's a hollow existence, but it dulls the pain. Until the day he encounters a ghost: the woman he thought drowned at sea, alive and as enchanting as ever. . .


When Kate Hamilton sees the man she once hoped to spend her life with, she is hit with a storm of memories and longing. But though resisting Aidan's passion proves impossible, Kate must try not to love him all over again. For her seemingly quiet London life shields a dangerous secret, one that will catch up to her the moment she lets herself fall. . .

Author: Victoria Dahl
Series: York Family, book 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Kensington Zebra
Year of release: 2011, August 1
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Bought via The BookDepository

First line:
"Thank you, Mr. York. It's been a pleasure, sir. A pleasure."

Memorable Scenes:
- the kiss after the chess game > poignant turning point in the book
- Aidan's talk with Jude > the humorful banter that lacked throughout the rest of the book was definitely present in this scene

Kate Hamilton (Katie Tremont - Katherine Gallow, yes Kate has quite some aliases) is the heroine of this second installment in the York Family series. Kate's ordeal has changed her from happy and vivacious to quiet and on guard and definitely wary of men.

The hero is Aidan York, the middle York sibling. Aidan is still grieving the loss of the love of his life and he’s a bit cynical. Honestly I was expecting a more tortured hero in Aidan and in the beginning he seemed to be headed that way but from the moment Kate re-enters his world it felt like he turned into this lovesick puppy and his character lost a bit of its strength.

This book contains a complicated yet beautiful and poignant romance. Aidan was led to believe Kate had drowned at sea while Kate married another man and left for the Far East thinking Aidan had abandoned her. Something tragic happened to send her back to England but she's trying to fend for herself and has not contacted her family. Though some may frown upon Kate for some of the choices she makes, I understood her motivation. However I did think she should've told Aidan sooner about her problem.

The love scenes were beautifully written and quite steamy. They were emotional and made the romance part stand out in the book. The mystery of what happened to Kate in Ceylon was intriguing to say the least. With little and cryptic hints every few chapters the entire story eluded me for a big part of the book but I didn't mind. There was more emphasis on romance than on the mystery and I liked that.

Contrary to her contemporaries and the first York book, Victoria Dahl toned down the humorous note considerably in this book and considering the characters and their romance it fit. This doesn't mean there wasn't any humor at all but it was kept subtle in favor of the intricacy of the romance. I thought this was well done, even if I did miss the laugh-out-loud humor I’ve grown used to by Ms. Dahl.

IT'S ALWAYS BEEN YOU is a lovely historical romance that I read with a wistful smile on my face and a twinge in my heart. Simple but wonderful writing with characters that make you root for them both was mixed with a little mystery and a heartfelt romance.

Favorite Quotes:
Granted, he was no longer grief-stricken and angry. But he could not seem to rid himself of the space in his chest that left his heart knocking hollowly around.

He glanced her way and caught her looking, and he smiled. He smiled, and it was as if there were a lamp inside her and someone had just struck the flame.

“[…] But Katie Tremont is not just some jaded, bored wife. She is the woman you used to love. And she is the woman who never once contacted you in the past decade.”
“I’m well aware of that. You needn’t fear for my heart, brother. It’s no longer tender. I’ve spent years banging it against other women’s backs, as you kindly point out.” (Edward and Aidan)

Kate heard a soft sound of want, knew that is was her own quiet moan, and opened her mouth to him. His tongue glided inside. She felt the shock of it as if she’d never been kissed, as if all those kisses they’d once shared had been an invention of her lovesick brain.

She’d kissed Aidan York, after all.
My God, she’d kissed him. Opened her mouth to him. Rubbed her tongue against his as if she’d never spent a day apart from his body. She was supposed to be a married woman, yet she’d licked at his mouth as if she were starving for it.


Stella (Ex Libris) said...

Thank you for your wonderful review! I've only read a contemporary story of Victoria Dahl which I have loved, but now that I know she also penned historical romances (the premise of which sounds intriguing!), I'll have to check out her York series :-) Thank you for the recommendation Pearl!

Fiction Vixen said...

I haven't read a historical by Victoria Dahl yet. I love her contemps though. Great review.

Aurian said...

I'd like to read this book / series, thanks for the review Pearl. And I love that cover, such beautiful color purple.

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39, married to my real life romance hero, addicted to TV shows, reading romance novels and Twitter. I'm a chronic (e)book hoarder and my absolute favorite genres within romance fiction are contemporary romance and romantic suspense, but I don't shy away from historical, paranormal or erotic romance either. Even the occasional (urban) fantasy romance, futuristic and sci fi romance may make it to my Mount TBR. This is my corner of the world wide web where I let you know what books I'm hoarding, reading and reviewing.
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2011 Reading Challenge

Pearl has read 10 books toward her goal of 50 books.

On My TBR Shelf

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