Ash Turner has waited a lifetime to seek revenge on the man who ruined his family—and now the time for justice has arrived. At Parford Manor, he intends to take his place as the rightful heir to the dukedom and settle an old score with the current duke once and for all.
But instead he finds himself drawn to a tempting beauty who has the power to undo all his dreams of vengeance….
Lady Margaret knows she should despise the man who's stolen her fortune and her father's legacy—the man she's been ordered to spy on in the guise of a nurse. Yet the more she learns about the new duke, the less she can resist his smoldering appeal. Soon Margaret and Ash find themselves torn between old loyalties—and the tantalizing promise of passion….
And here is Heather's review:
Ash Turner exposed the Duke of Parford as a bigamist, rendering Parford's two sons and daughter illegitimate, and making himself next in line to inherit the elderly, sickly duke's title and lands. Lady Anna Margaret Dalrymple loathes Ash and holds him responsible for her illegitimate status and the death of her mother. Margaret agreed to stay behind to spy on Ash and send reports to her older brother, Richard. Ash sees her the moment he arrives at Parford Manor and is immediately attracted to Margaret, who passes herself off as “Miss Lowell”, the old duke's nurse.
The sparks fly between the two main characters. While it's acknowledged that Ash is handsome and Margaret is beautiful, their relationship is based on more than mutual attraction – Margaret falls for him because he tells her she's important, that she matters as a person, when her value to everyone else has been her dowry of 60,000 pounds and her social status. Ash falls for her because he feels that he can trust her with a secret he keeps even from his brothers: he can't read (because of a learning disability).
The sex scenes are sizzling, and the tension is begins to build when Ash resolves to wait for Margaret to give him a kiss, rather than take one from her. As a result, the two share a kiss at one point that, quite simply, sets the page on fire. Ash knows beforehand that Margaret isn't a virgin, that her cad of an ex-fiance' was boring in bed, and brings his A-game to remedy her unfavorable opinion of sex.
There are a lot of conflicts in the story, especially involving loyalty. At one point the protagonists come to an impass when Margaret can't stop trying to get herself and her brothers restored to legitimacy so that Richard can inherit the home his mother wanted him to, and Ash can't bow out because he wants to provide for his own brothers.
The ending is satisfying, but the epilogue unfortunately skips from the “Yes, I'll marry you” to four years later. I always like to read about the wedding and the reactions of all the other characters to it, and we didn't get that here. Still, not a big problem.
My only real issues are:
* Ash takes most of the book to figure out who Margaret is. This didn't seem consistent with his claims to being very good at reading people. Even when Parford refuses to ask Ash to grant his children an allowance, essentially condeming them to poverty after his death, and Margaret leaves the room quickly, Ash just doesn't understand why she would be upset over that.
* The lack of character development with some of the secondary characters, especially Ash's brother Smite. Smite seemed only two-dimensional, but I'm sure the author will remedy that in his story. Another character who was much-mentioned but never appeared was Margaret's brother Edmund.
Mark's story was told in the acclaimed sequel “Unclaimed”.