The fifth book in the School for Heiresses series.
The future of Charlotte Harris’s finishing school is in jeopardy when a charming Spaniard – world-famous magician Diego Montalvo – arrives to turn the bordering estate into a scandalous pleasure garden. Valiantly ignoring his wicked flirtations, outspoken Lucinda Seton vows to derail his plans and save the school, unaware that Diego’s true mission is to spirit the long-lost heiress away to Spain for a handsome reward! But before long Diego’s heart is playing tricks on him, and Lucy is falling under the illusionist’s spell. How can the Master of Mystery go through with his devilish scheme when all he wants is to make het lovely heiress his own?
Lucy Seton has just been spurned by Peter Burnes, the Earl of Hunford. Before he became an Earl, she was good enough for him, being childhood friends as their fathers served in the English army. But now, because she is partly Spanish, she just isn’t good enough for Peter. He needs a real English lady, not a hoyden!
Still hurting from that, and not really happy with the recent marriage of her father with lady Kerr, she has decided to stay at the school where se has been a student since the age of 12, to be a substitute teacher. It is only for a short while, and then she will join her father and his wife for the season.
But then the school gets a new neighbour, a famous magician, who wants to turn the property into a pleasure garden like Vauxhall! That will be the death of the school, so Lucy is determined to stop Diego from doing that. Even succumbing to his blackmail, when he discovers her asleep in his orchard, to showing him the school and be a witness to her drawing lessons. He has to understand the impossibility of the idea!
Diego cannot reveal his true purpose, that he is looking for the abducted heir of the marqùes Don Carlos de Parama. He has been told Lucinda was stolen by her nurse and her English soldier lover when she was four years old. And he can recognize her by a particular birthmark on her thigh…
So after a lot of investigations and false hope, they are looking for one of the students of Mrs. Harris finishing school for young girls. Not knowing that the teacher he finds so attractive is the student he is searching for, Diego kisses her. As the attraction deepens, he keeps hoping she is not the one he is searching for, as he promised the marquès that he would not lay a finger on her. He is not the sort of husband the old man wants for his granddaughter!
When he finally tells Lucy a part of the truth, she doesn’t believe him. She wants to talk to her father first, to find out the truth. But Diego doesn’t want to wait for that, so he abducts her to Spain. He hates all the English, especially the soldiers, like her father is.
But what is the truth, was she abducted, or did her mother elope with her real father?
After a lot of grieve, she finally knows, and now she has to decide if she can forgive all the men in her life their lies and manipulation …
A good story, I liked the originality. Diego is way to hardheaded for my taste, but he does come to his senses in time. And now I am so very curious about the last book in this series! Does the school continue? Or are all the scandals, the elopements, enough to finish it off? Especially now the relationship between mrs. Harris and her cousin Michael has come to an end when he still won’t reveal his identity to her?