When the mesmerizing Marcus Longfellow, theEarl of Renn, comes striding into Miss Mary Marsh's life,her world is set spinning. The ladies of London's ton clamor for the lacy confections Mary creates, but the earl is seeking something more from her. And he is very persuasive in his pursuit. Gentle, quiet Mary has always avoided romance, but her strong attraction to theadventurous nobleman is immediate and irresistible.Dare she trust the dashing lord with her secrets?
She is hiding something -- Marcus is certain of it -- a clue, perhaps, to explain his sister's untimely death. A sensuous seduction will surely loosen young Mary's tongue,and the determined earl is eager to oblige -- for in all his world travels, Marcus has found no treasure moreexquisite than she. But is his growing passion for herinterfering with his search for the truth?
Ashworth's (Someone Irresistible) somber Victorian-era romance opens on the gloomy coast of Cornwall with a bride's death. The bride's older brother, Marcus, the earl of Renn, arrives in England shortly thereafter, having been abroad for four years. While his mother and brother snipe at each other, Marcus turns to Mary Marsh, the beautiful, mysterious woman who has lived with the family for several months, designing his sister's intimate wedding garments. Already intrigued by Marcus from his sister's description of him, Mary agrees to stay and help him investigate his sister's demise, only to find that the investigation becomes more dangerous, and the passion that simmers between herself and the earl more heated, with every secret unturned. But Mary has secrets, too ones she's unwilling to reveal. The sense of doom that pervades the story will pull readers onward inexorably, but much along the way is jarring. Mary very modernly thinks of "working through" her guilt in regards to her own family issues, and characters often switch from high to low emotions without warning or reason. Nevertheless, Mary and Marcus's feelings that they've found soul mates in each other rings true, which makes for a satisfying denouement.
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