Morgan Becket became one of Ainsley Becket’s family of orphans when her sailor father buttoned his pants and got up from the bed of her prostitute mother, who later sold her to Ainsley. The price, a single gold coin and a bottle of gin.
To please Ainsley, the fairly volatile Morgan travels to London to acquire some Town Bronze and enjoy a Season. Setting the exotically beautiful, high-spirited Morgan Becket loose on the London marriage mart is a gamble that can end either in triumph or complete disaster, as Morgan believes she can never be better than the circumstances of her birth, and attacks life as an adversary.
Still, it was a good plan, and might have worked, if not for the appearance of Ethan Tanner, Earl of Aylesford, a man who shares Morgan’s hey-go-mad love of excitement. When a strong, independent woman like Morgan meets a man very like herself, it’s time for the timid to take cover! But had the London lord who follows his now fiancée back to Romney Marsh wooed and won her only in order to catch a French spy known to be passing back and forth to France from the beaches of Romney Marsh? If so, Morgan is not the sort of young woman who can be used without seeking retaliation!
Unlike many of the RITA-winning author's nearly 90 romance novels, this winning Regency tale (second in a series) is no cheerful high society romp awash in amoral comedic characters. While the tone's definitely not dark, the mood is more mysterious in this story, which centers on the magnetic attraction between dashing and disreputable Ethan Tanner, earl of Aylesford, and wild would-be debutante Morgan Becket, whose unconventional family is unconnected by blood but united by terrible (sometimes criminal) secrets. Readers who enjoy Michaels's festive knack for exposing the foolishness and foibles of early 19th-century London's high society may be disappointed at the short shrift given the ton, as Morgan's debut season is cut short after a single delightfully scandalous ball. Substituting for the social intrigue Michaels's forte is international political intrigue, including battles on the high seas that are, unfortunately, reported second-hand and lacking in immediacy and color. The shooting-star sparks between the two protagonists, however, make up in power what the action sequences lack, and Michaels's enticing hints about the unrevealed origins of the Beckets of Romney Marsh should more than suffice to keep readers tantalized through this book and into the next.