Don’t let the cover fool you: while this book does contain some steamy romance scenes, it’s primarily about rebuilding a marriage in which trust was utterly destroyed by a third party.
THE PLOT: Victor Cale (who readers met at the end of book 1 in the series, “What the Duke Desires”) and Isabella are a newly married young couple torn apart by Isa’s plotting sister Jacoba and brother-in-law Gerhart. Isa is an expert at making paste jewelry, and Victor is guarding some important diamonds. Jacoba and Gerhart steal the jewels, and also A) convince Isa that Victor helped them and has now abandoned Isa with his share, and B) convince Victor that Isa has left him and set him up to take the fall for the jewelry theft she planned. Neither actually took part in the robbery, but each is left believing that the other used and abandoned them. All that young love is turned to hatred, and they spend 10 years apart…until Victor finally tracks his wife down by accident. He’s hired as a private detective to investigate a Scottish baron’s future intended. When he realizes this questionable woman is Isa, at long last, he plans to make her pay for her crimes.
MY TWO CENTS: This is the kind of romance book I love, where two lost people somehow have to find their way back to each other. Isa escaped her family years ago, but has long since given up hope of reuniting with Victor. Plus, she’s afraid of what he wants from her now…and his reaction to finding out another secret she has hidden all these years. Victor is sure his wife is out to steal more jewels. How can they possibly learn to trust each other enough to rebuild their relationship? (Here’s a hint: It starts with realizing their marriage wasn’t that strong to begin with if they could be turned against each other so easily.) Their reunion is very gradual as they are forced to work together to escape from Isa’s villainous family once and for all.
THE BOTTOM LINE: This book is perfectly paced. It didn’t linger too long at any of the stages in this journey. For example, Victor and Isa realize they’ve been duped about a third of the way through. it takes another third for all the other secrets to come tumbling out. Finally, the last third is about them strengthening their relationship into a true marriage that will last. I never felt like any part of it was rushed or took too long.
TEACUP RATING: I love characters that really make you feel. Five teacups, no question. I hope all readers hurt and rejoice along with Isa and Victor as much as I did.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.