Copyright: 2003 (Harlequin); pgs. 297
Series: Historical #680
Who: Julia, Lady Carrington, and Nicholas Chandler, Viscount Thayne
Lady Carrington’s husband was murdered three years ago. No one was arrested for the crime and it was believed to be a robbery gone wrong, though the only item taken was a distinctive ring. However, Julia believes that there was more to it. Her husband had worked for British Intelligence — and there is a slim possibility his death was connected to the assignment he was working on. So when she learns from a friend that the ring has been seen on the hand of the Viscount Thayne, Julia is determined to learn how it came to be in his possession.
Nicholas Chandler, Viscount Thayne, has decided to mark the second anniversary of Mary’s death by wearing the ring she gave him. This act has brought him to the notice of more than one interested party. He’s kidnapped at gunpoint, wounded by a highway robber, and forced to endure bed rest and bad cooking in a run-down country house/farm. It’s safe to say that Nicholas is not happy and refuses to cooperate with Julia.
This new predicament makes Julia realize how irrational her plans were. Nicholas’ people, especially his grandfather, the Earl of Monteville, will wonder what happened and begin searching for him — expecting foul play. She feels guilty for the wound he received and for dragging him unwillingly into her life. Added to this confusion are her feelings for him. She never thought she feel the same way about another man as she had for Thomas.
Things aren’t any simpler for Nicholas. Two years ago, he failed to save the life of the woman he loved. Nicholas had fallen in love with a betrothed woman, who chose to go ahead with the marriage instead of calling it off to be with the man she loved. Shortly after, she fled from her husband and became ill. By the time Nicholas was sent word of her whereabouts, she was dying. He has never forgiven himself. Now, he’s caught up in Julia’s affairs. Someone else is interested in the ring, and has put Julia’s life in danger. Feelings he thought died with Mary are stirring and he’s afraid he’ll lose Julia the way he lost Mary.
Because of the confusion they both feel, they can’t be alone with each other more than a minute before the end up in an argument. They need time to work on putting their pasts behind them. But someone made a large bet — that they will be married within two months — and he isn’t above manipulating things to ensure that Thayne will be forced to propose.
I enjoyed this book. I thought their relationship was handled realistically. I really felt for Nicholas. Yes, it’s bad that he got involved with another man’s betrothed, but apparently Mary didn’t love Nicholas enough to call off her wedding to marry him instead. I thought it odd. Mary calling off the wedding wouldn’t have been a big a scandal as it would have been if Lord Huntington had done it, or if he divorced her.
I did not realize there is an earlier book by the author, that features Nicholas’ sister Sarah and Lord Huntington (The Marriage Truce). I’m interested in reading it, and hope to do so soon.
Fun fact – It wasn’t until I started writing this that I noticed that the couple had the same names as the main characters in Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Grave.
“There is a goat in my room.”
“Yes. It is Betty.”
— Nicholas, Julia
“No baggage again, I see.”
“Julia needs to either warn me when she plans to kidnap me or have my valet pack a bag that she can bring with her.”
— Mrs. Mobley, Nicholas
Started: 16 April 2008
Finished: 26 April 2008