At 25, Serena has given up hope of ever finding love or a husband. But she is a loyal sister and is determined to help her step-sister Charity make a match with the Earl of Savege. Of course, Serena has no idea that it's the Earl she has come across in a dark parlour, just before Charity is to meet the man. Sparks fly the second Serena and Alex meet. And the two share some passionate moments without ever exchanging names. When they come face-to-face at Alex's introduction to Charity, they are still drawn together like magnets.
Alex is not only an earl, but has a secret identity as a Robin-Hood type pirate. He's never had any inclination to settle down before, but is considering marriage in order to have an heir. Neither he nor Charity want the betrothal the girl's mother has engineered, but somehow they are both drawn into it. The story follows Serena as she struggles between her role as a dutiful sister and woman desperately attracted to her sister's fiance.
The non-romantic subplot features Serena's determination to bring down a smuggling ring targeting the area. The men have been linked to the deflowering and disappearance of local girls. And that hits close to home for our heroine, since her young sister was snatched that way as a child. Serena continuously appeals to Alex for help and even seeks out his alter-ego, in hopes the infamous Pirate Redstone would be the hero she needs.
The pirate subplot, I found myself skimming over in order to get back to the love story. There's a lot of talk about Alex and his brother's history with their arch-enemy Poole, but I couldn't bring myself to care much about it. Every time we went back to that part of the story or the smugglers, my eyes kind of glassed over. As for the love story: It was obvious from the beginning that Serena and Alex needed to be together. And it annoyed me how her step-mother's machinations to match Alex with Charity were successful for so long. It was a pleasure watching Serena's awakening; and just as much fun seeing Alex fall in love, despite his rakish intentions. The love scenes we had were solid. And I was satisfied with the ending.
This book is a companion to Swept Away By a Kiss
. The hero from that story is part of this one. But in no way do you need to have read that book to understand what's going on here. 3 1/2 stars. *ARC Provided by NetGalley