Welcome to Thorncliff Manor, where London's elite mix, mingle, and may even find their heart's desire . . .
There are thousands of things Christopher, Viscount Spencer, would rather do than hunt for a bride, especially since experience has taught him that women are not to be trusted. Then he finds the intriguing Lady Sarah scrambling around in Thorncliff's conservatory and he is instantly charmed by her passionate nature. But why is she so intent on avoiding him?
Lady Sarah would make the perfect bride for a peer—if not for a tarnished past that she's hiding from the ton. A stay at Thorncliff Manor was meant to help her plan for her future, not fall in love. Yet Christopher's kisses are irresistible, his gallantry enticing. When her secret stands to be revealed, will the truth ruin their dreams of happiness?
A great start to a new series.
Sarah’s desire is to live her own life, with a man of her choosing. Unfortunately a youthful mistake nearly ruined her reputation and severely limited her chances for an acceptable match, a fact that her father and stepmother will NOT let her forget. To avoid further temptation for his willful daughter, her father has moved her and her stepsisters to Thorncliff Manor in an effort to ease the match between her and Mr. Dennison, her father’s choice for her husband.
Unimpressed by her chosen suitor, Sarah is chafing under the responsibility of a ‘good daughter’ and is not thrilled with the match. Unfortunately, despite her own wishes, she is very solidly a creature of her time, and her life is not her own. But then, a new and intriguing opportunity arises, to at least remove the boredom and sameness of her life at Thorncliff.
Christopher, Lord Spencer is obligated by position to marry, but it’s an obligation he plans to put off to the last possible moment. An affair of the heart gone wrong, he is not interested in tying the knot, until the sharp-tongued Sarah challenges his person, position and humor with her forthright manner and often inappropriate utterances.
Seeing the sadness and sense of resignation that follows Sarah, already in a courtship, has Christopher alternately wanting to help and knowing he should stay away. But Sarah has thawed the ice around his heart, and that is a rarity for him.
Interactions between these two are often closer to fireworks than polite conversation: as Sarah realizes that Christopher is interested, she allows her own thoughts to stray to the potential for more than the match her father has decided on. Slowly (actually quite slowly) their connection builds for readers to see just as they discover the growing affections. Written with a patient hand, Barnes allows the characters to grow toward one another before they kiss, and the long wait makes it sweeter. I honestly wanted to reach in and push them together – they are well-suited and it took them long enough to see it!
Secondary characters are clever and add to the budding courtship and add life to the story away from our couple, setting up potential matches for future stories with a sense of anticipation. Thorncliff Manor itself is also well-described and detailed with nods to history and mystery within, and the addition of a pet hamster with a Houdini complex gave a touch of fun and whimsy to the story. A great start to a new series.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.