JL is looking for this book, and she remembers the cover most of all:
I actually have a HABO that I've been holding onto for a little while now. I can't remember a ton about the book and have been hoping more would come to me, but I think this might be it! I'm looking for one of the earlier romances I read, which I got from a truly amazing used romance book store my mom used to take me to when I was a tween. I remember shelves that were as tall as I am just filled to bursting with romance paperbacks–if only such a magical place existed today!
Anyway, the book was a Harlequin Regency I'm certain, and I read it in probably the mid 1990s (so the book might have been early to mid 90s?) . I remember the cover illustration was of a woman with black or dark brown hair, and she's making this ridiculous surprised look at the hero (picture the Home Alone kid in the aftershave scene). As for the plot, I don't remember much. The heroine had jilted the hero previously to run off and marry someone else, who turned out to be a seriously evil dickwad.
I want to say he either kidnapped or raped her or something equally bad and that's why she married him? I think maybe he also raped other women while they were married. He's dead now and she meets her one true love again, but for some reason she can't or won't explain what happened, so the hero does a lot of “I want to hate her but I just can't”. I remember feeling so incredibly bad for the heroine that she had such a shitty husband and then was sorta-hated by the guy she really loved.
I thought of one more detail after I had emailed you! I remember that the heroine's devoted servants play a big role in helping her get back with the hero. I think maybe they spill her secrets so he understands why she did what she did.
Can anyone HABO?
It would be nice if people came with merit badges that said, “NO, really, I'm a romance hero!” so we can avoid the evil dickwads. Do you recognize this book?