Number 6 in series
In a moment of recklessness Gervase Tregarth, sixth Earl of Crowhurst, swears he'll marry the next eligible lady to cross his path. However, after years engaged in secret service to the Crown, he knows the importance of an escape route - the lady must be compatible in every way, or there will be no wedding. Cloistered at his ancestral castle in Cornwall, with no suitable woman for miles, Gervase never expects he'll have to fulfil his pledge. That is, until he meets his neighbour, the deliciously appealing Madeline Gascoigne.
Despite his reservations, Gervase finds himself irrepressibly drawn to Madeline, luring her into his arms and, ultimately his bed. From their very first kiss, he discovers that the headstrong and independent Madeline is no meek country miss, they are definitely compatible - and that the fire between them will burn well beyond that first seduction...
After six unsuccessful months of wife-hunting in London, Gervase Tregarth, earl of Crowhurst and the second-to-last unattached member of the Bastion Club (last seen in series prequel Captain Jack's Woman), reluctantly agrees to the requests of his three mischievous younger sisters, who would rather their brother find a local lady they can vet and approve. He doesn't have to look far before he finds Madeline Gascoigne, acting regent of nearby Treleaver Park, a now-independent woman he's lost touch with over his years abroad. Gervase decides to satisfy his end of the deal by pursuing Madeline, but only "enough to make his declaration of incompatibility credible." However, it's harder to win some time with the disciplined woman than Gervase foresees, and soon a cast of supporting characters (including Madeline's three younger brothers) are scheming to get the couple together. Complicating matters are the continuing machinations of Malcolm Sinclair and a nameless villain who believes Madeline's brothers know where to find a missing treasure. Though it's a reliable serving of rogues and romance, Laurens's latest feels like less of the same; reliant on too many stock plots and situations-not to mention Laurens's endlessly spiraling euphemisms-it's ultimately too safe to satisfy.