This spin-off of Thomas's Fitzhugh series is, in the context of that series, utterly fascinating. A piece of erotica written by the character of Hastings, it represents both his worst nightmare and his deepest fantasy: having stepped in to save his old friend's sister from the consequences of her folly by marrying her, she is now at his mercy. And since he has been in love with her for years, hiding behind a facade of mocking derision, he is both thrilled and agonized."I conceal my love for her the way others would a case of leprosy. Or worse, syphillis." Hasting -- here known as Larkspear -- writes. He can force her to physically respond to him... but how can he break past the wall of antagonism he's carefully built for so many years, to reveal the truth?True to its subtitle, this is considerably blunter and steamier than Thomas' usual fare, with a touch of kink. But what's most interesting about "The Bride of Larkspear" is its emotional content, and how much Hasting reveals of himself in it. In [b:Ravishing the Heiress|13051602|Ravishing the Heiress (Fitzhugh Trilogy, #2)|Sherry Thomas|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1326225990s/13051602.jpg|18216417], he actually gives this story to Helena, the subject of it, and she reads at least the beginning; if she read it through, she would know without question that it's about her and that Hastings is in love with her. Knowing that gives the book a compelling subtext.I ended this story both very eager to read Hasting and Helena's "real" story, yet also a little nervous about it, because this one felt so real to me that it's hard for me to remember it's not canon. Although it's probably not necessary to read this to appreciate their story, I do highly recommend it.