Mallory is an honest, honorable and loyal ladies maid with a dream of one day opening her own confectioner's shop. She has no idea she is the long-lost heiress to the Templemore title. She was kidnapped as a child on the night her mother was murdered and her grandfather has been looking for her ever since.
If Mallory were never found, Henry would have inherited the estate. He is tasked to track her down and figure out if she truly is the missing Lady Marguerite. He ensconces himself into her life to better judge her character. Henry is taken with Mallory right away... and she can't believe this wealthy gentleman would want anything to do with her. A walk together, a dance, and a few feverish kisses later, she finds out the truth of who Henry is and why he is there. She feels angry and betrayed and vows never to be so foolish again.
Of course, it's not so easy to get away from Henry. He is her grandfather's godson and he goes with her meet the old man and become part of the family. It's a difficult transition from maid to heiress, and although she has tender feelings for her grandfather, it's really Henry who makes her feel alive in her new surroundings. The anger she has for him makes their interactions even more incendiary. There is passion between them... flirtation and banter... and fear.
Henry is determined never to fall in love again. A horrible first marriage cured him of any romantic illusions about matrimony. The thing is, Mallory refuses to marry without love. So as she begins to fall for him, he isn't able to give her what she really needs for a future.
I liked Henry. He's almost too good to be true in that he is willing to give up the inheritance he would have gotten to do the right thing by Mallory. This, even before he knew her. He's got some emotional baggage, but it doesn't make him cruel, just... closed off at times. Mallory is sweet and genuine and--it turns out-- quite passionate. The sexual tension and the love scene between her and Henry were very, very good.
I didn't love that they were pushed into a relationship decision by external circumstances late in the book. I also think I would have liked more loose ends tied up with Mallory's father. But overall, I enjoyed the story. There's a small mystery/danger side arc that managed to surprise me before all was said and done. And I liked the romance.
This is book six in the Scandalous Women of the Ton series. Mallory has been a recurring character in previous books, but this can be read easily as a standalone.
Rating: B-*ARC Provided by NetGalley