Tristan Wemyss, Earl of Trentham, never expected he'd need to wed within a year or forfeit his inheritance. But he is not one to bow to the matchmaking mamas of the ton. No, he will marry a lady of his own choosing. And the lady he chooses is the enchanting neighbor living with her family next door. Miss Leonora Carling has beauty, spirit and passion; unfortunately, matrimony is the last thing on her mind . . .
To Leonora, Tristan's kisses are oh-so-tempting, but once bitten, forever shy, she has determinedly turned her back on marriage. But Tristan is a seasoned campaigner who will not accept defeat. And when a mysterious man attempts to scare Leonora and her family from their home, Tristan realizes he's been given the perfect excuse to offer his services—as protector, seducer and, ultimately, husband.
"It's a sad day when, having survived everything the French could throw at us, we, England's heroes, return home only to face an even greater threat," laments Tristan, fourth Earl of Trentham, to his fellow ex-spies after they return from war with Napoleon to discover the sword of matrimony hanging over their heads. In response, the titled gentlemen set up the Bastion Club, a retreat where they can exchange intelligence about the eager-eyed damsels who are their latest challenge. This first installment in Laurens's new series focuses on Tristan, who must wed within a year or support his 14 maiden aunts without his inheritance. Little does he expect to find his future with Leonora Carling, neighbor to the Bastion Club and the victim of several recent home invasions. Intrigued by both Leonora and the suspicious events, Tristan bends his talents to uncovering the mystery burglar and to charming Leonora. Leonora, who has no use for marriage, may be new to the sexual tension vibrating between her and Tristan, but she's willing to explore further, believing that nothing permanent can come of it. When Tristan insists that she marry him, the battle of wills commences. Fans of Laurens's popular Cynster (The Perfect Lover, etc.) romances will expect the high adventure and steamy, sensual love scenes that are her signature, and they won't be disappointed by this solid, if conventional, offering.