Genre: historical romance
A not-so-merry widow...
The widowed Marchioness of Folkestone is notorious for her parties, her art collection, and her utter disregard for the rules. But Ellie Claiborne knows her destruction is near. The new marquess is her first lover - the man whose sculpted body and sardonic grin haunt her every time she picks up her paintbrush. If he ever returns to claim his inheritance, her heart won't survive seeing him again.
A man determined to destroy her...
Nicholas Claiborne hasn't stepped foot in England since watching Ellie marry his cousin. He has no use for the gorgeous, heartless girl who betrayed him, or the title she abandoned him for. But when his business in India turns deadly, Nick must return to London to uncover a murderer - and take revenge on the woman he couldn't force himself to forget.
A love they can't escape...
Nick hates Ellie's transformation from sweet debutante to jaded seductress. Ellie despises him for leaving her behind. Still, the sparks between them reignite the passion that should have been their destiny. As their demands of each other turn darker and a potential killer closes in, they must decide whether to guard the fragile remnants of their hearts -- or find a way to fall in love all over again.
Ellie and Nick were a young couple in love, but with Ellie a Duke’s daughter, and Nick a rich tradesmen’s son, her father disapproved of the match. Instead, he wanted Ellie to marry Nick’s titled cousin. And to please her father, and save Nick from his wrath, Ellie gave in. But three days later, Ellie was a widow, and Nick was his cousin’s heir, the new Marquess of Folkestone. But Nick had already left for India, and there he stayed for the next 10 years, obsessing over Ellie and plotting his revenge, and also getting very, very rich.
But now he is back in England, determined to claim his inheritance and take his revenge on Ellie. His younger brother was in on his plans for revenge, and he has made sure that Ellie kept spending more than she could, lending her money from Nick’s estate, while thinking it is her own money. And so Ellie is indebted to Nick for forty thousand pounds. A fortune she cannot possibly pay back. He wants her as his mistress for three months, to do with as he pleases, in and out of the bedroom.
To keep her father from making another loveless match for her, Ellie had to sully her reputation so he would not bother with her anymore. She is known for her debauchery and orgies at her house parties. But still, she never did everything the ton is whispering about her. She has only had a few lovers in those 10 years, very casual flings. All this time she has been waiting for Nick to come home and claim her. And now, she is betrayed by him, and by his brother, whom she trusted to look after her affairs. She will not give in without hurting Nick in return.
Nick came back for a reason though, someone is trying to kill him, and the thinks the culprit is in England. And now he has to find out who it is, before he is killed.
This book is darker than the historical romances I am used to reading. There is not much humor in it, but it is a gripping tale, and I kept hoping that Nick would give in to his feelings for Ellie, and give up his revenge. He did show her some consideration every now and then that was unsuspected. Of course Ellie is furious about being deceived this way, but she is still glad that Nick has come home. They never did stop loving the other.
I have been curious about Ellie since I encountered her in the first book. She is supposed to be a bad woman, with lots of lovers and such, but she did help her brother’s mistress without questions. And she never did sully her reputation beyond repair, beyond being welcome in the ton. She is a painter, using her handsome servants as models. And of course Nick stars in a lot of them…
Nick has a hard time at the house party, trying to be nice to the aristocrats who would have shunned him before he inherited his title. And he certainly does not like how other men act protectively towards Ellie. She is his! But in the end, he might even has made some friends.
The mystery was a good one, not easily solved.
Sara Ramsey has a nice, fluent writing style, but she is especially good in writing characters you just have to fall for. The story is original; there is never a moment that I thought I knew what would happen next. So I do recommend this series, but don’t think it is fluffy, as it is not.
© 2013 Reviews by Aurian