The first book in the Hurst Amulet series, published in 2010.
New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins begins a sparkling new series with this thrilling tale of a desperate beauty on an urgent quest, a dark earl scarred by his beastly past - and the ancient treasure that binds their fates.
A mysterious abductor . . . Someone is holding her brother prisoner in exchange for a gold-and-onyx box covered in mysterious runes, so Mary Hurst boldly sets out from the family vicarage to find the priceless artifact. But the man who possesses it, Angus Hay, the Earl of Erroll, is less than sympathetic to her plight.
A forbidding stranger . . . Himself a prisoner of his dark past, Angus refuses to yield the box - or allow Mary to leave! Suspicious of the alluring lass's mission, he vows to wrest a confession from her, but unearths a fiery temper and a will as strong as his own.
An unbreakable curse . . . Passion flares between them, but now there is more at stake: an unknown enemy is hunting down the precious box, and will stop at nothing. Risking all for love, Angus must solve the mystery behind the runes . . . and trust the only woman who can awaken his forgotten heart.
I totally loved this story! Karen Hawkins again entertained me for hours!
Mary’s brother Michael Hurst is a well-known adventurer, who brings lots of treasures home from his travels. The historical society thinks very highly of him, partly due because Mary writes his articles for him and makes the illustrations too. She envies Michael his travelling, as she is stuck back home at the vicarage, taking care of their parents. Her sisters are already married well (MacLean Curse series), her second brother is a ship captain, and her third brother is working for the government, but she thinks as a spy and not as the clerk he pretends to be, which is way too tame for him.
But now Michael is taken prisoner in Egypt, and his ransom is a certain gold and onyx box he bought on his previous trip, and is now in the possession of the Earl of Erroll for study. Mary will have to fetch the box and bring it to a certain sea town, where her brother William will wait with his ship to transport it back to Egypt. But the fetching is not so easily done.
After a horrid journey, Mary and her new maid Abigail arrive in Scotland, at the Castle of the Earl of Erroll, to ask for the box. But Angus Hay just doesn’t believe her. He is supposed to be a friend of her brother, but Michael has never spoken of her, or of their other siblings! And he has warned Angus that someone might come to steal the box. Since she has no way of proving who she really is, Mary is locked in the turret bedroom until another discoverer can visit who can identify her.
But Mary is not a witless young miss, who will sit quietly in her bedroom. She just won’t stop making a racket until she is freed, even if it is for just a few hours. She is not used to sitting idly around. So the Earl of Error has met his match. He lost his wife a few years ago, and is still afraid of fire in his house. And the fact that Mary might be the spitting image of his wife, and the attraction between them is huge, doesn’t help her fate much. Mary is determined to use her charms to get the most out of her adventure, before she has to go back home, and Angus is as determined to keep her at arms length. Because, what if she is telling the truth after all? Michael won’t like having his sister ravaged. And he is not the husband Mary deserves to have.
But the days become weeks, and Mary and Angus are growing closer together. Their discussions are heated, and so are their kisses.
A really great book. Even though the story takes place entirely during her captivity, the story is entertaining and I just had to know what Mary would think of next to thwart the Earl, and get her freedom. I would have loved a much longer book, about how in the end they do travel to her brother with the box in question, but thanks to the preview, I am already eagerly awaiting the next book in this series. And thanks to the letters from Michael to his sister, I am also very curious about his story!
I just loved Mary and her way of loving life, how she gets Angus to take a good look at his life and find it lacking. How he realises he has to move on. I am just a little bit disappointed about the storyline with the cousin. If Angus knew it already, why not put a stop to it?
An excellent last book for 2010!