Edward de Lacey is the second son of the Duke of Durham. And as his father dies, Edward learns that the old man had been keeping a very big secret. It seems the Duke was married before he met Edward's mother --and never divorced. If that comes to light, not only will Edward and his brothers lose the estate, but their legitimacy as well. So Edward rushes off to the finest lawyer in town, hoping to secure his family's future.
He has no idea Francesca has hopes of using the very same attorney to help her gain custody of her niece. The girl's stepmother is refusing her access to the child, even though Francesca's brother-in-law promised her custody before he died. This attorney is her last hope... and he accepts her case. But then Edward swoops in with his problems and the lawyer drops her instantly.
Devastated and furious, Francesca confronts Edward, demanding his help, to repay her for stealing the lawyer out from under her. Of course, he blows her off at first. But later, when she helps him in a way that no one else can, he agrees help her in return. Once they start working together, it's just a matter of time before they give in to the attraction between them.
There are alot of things I liked about this book. I liked that Francesca was a widow and not the trembling virgin that is the female lead for most historical romances. I liked that their feelings for each other were not instant, but grew over the course of the book. I liked their explosion of passion when they finally came together. And maybe most importantly, I liked that neither of them were ever dishonorable toward the other. They treated each other well at all times and never lost their loyalty or honesty. (There is one little blip at the end, but it's a small matter and is resolved quickly.)
I really enjoyed the prequel I Love the Earl
for many of the same reasons. And while they never mention Edward's father by name, I believe he is Francis, brother to the heroine in that novella. It appears there are more stories to come, featuring Edward's brothers --and I look forward to reading what's next for Charlie and Gerard. Almost 4 stars.*ARC Provided by NetGalley