Back to cleaning up reviews from the GR conversion. I read and reviewed this sometime last year.
Margaret wanted to despise Ash Turner. He had exposed her father’s bigamy, ruined her mother’s reputation, made her and her brother’s bastards and through legal machinations was attempting to inherit everything that belonged to her family. But Ash Turner wasn’t at all who she expected when he shows up to inspect the holdings. He’s handsome and amiable and quickly charms the staff. He seems to truly care about the people and the holdings and may possibly make a better duke than her own father, much to Margaret’s dismay.
“One thing was for certain. Ash Turner was going to be a damn nuisance.”
Margaret is torn. She stayed behind, posing as a nursemaid to the ailing duke in order to keep him safe and also to spy on Ash and report all of his failings back to her brothers who are attempting to get reinstated as legitimate heirs with a case in parliament. But Ash isn’t nearly as awful as she suspected. He’s kind, level headed, very business savvy and he ignites a longing in her she desperately attempts to keep at bay. She’s lying to him after all and considering deceiving him in the worst way when he spills a very private secret about himself. The more time they spend together the more difficult it is for her to tell him the truth.
This was a fabulous love story, developed well with strong characterization and beautifully done sexual tension. At first I was all set to dislike Ash. After all, this is a guy who swoops in and basically takes over an estate booting out another family without a second thought to any innocent lives involved, all so he can seek revenge and lavish his brothers with luxury (brothers who don’t even want it). And right off the bat, he spies a beautiful maid and declares her his before they’ve even had a conversation. What a jerk, right? But he’s not a jerk as I quickly discovered. He has layers and reasons for behaving the way he does and I warmed up to him fast. Who wouldn’t love a guy with a great sense of humor and a sense of dogged devotion to those he loves?
“I have no wish to be your sordid love slave!”
She is an equally likable and well developed character, with some past hurts that help to round out her character and her own fierce sense of devotion to those she loves. She eventually gets to the point where she doesn’t know who to trust anymore. I really did feel for her and admired her loyalty to her family even when I wanted to scream “Tell him the freaking truth, already!” But she couldn’t and it was as frustrating for me as it was for her.
I have a few minor complaints. There were loose ends left dangling regarding Ash’s relationship with his brothers so I didn’t feel a complete sense of closure there. That bugged me. I also wanted to know more about Mark’s childhood but maybe that was done purposefully so the author could keep us panting for their books? I don’t know but she’s suckered me into wanting to read them. Also, because I am no expert on heirs, holdings, dukedom’s and all that jazz I was a little lost as to how the conclusion worked itself out. It seemed to come to quick and tidy after the big build-up but what do I know? Other than those minor nits I found this a thoroughly engaging and charming romance.