If you read Book 6 in the “Lost Lords” series, Not Quite a Wife (reviewed here), you already know this Lost Lord: Daniel Herbert, brother of Laurel. His romance with Jessie Kelham is my favorite Mary Jo Putney book in recent memory. (And by the way, whoever is doing these covers for Kensington is just knocking it out of the park. I loved the elegant piano cover on Book 6, and this is a great follow-up. And yes, this red dress makes an appearance in the book.)
THE PLOT: Daniel, who’s kind of a doctor and sometimes a clergyman but definitely a do-gooder, once treated a woman who had been beaten so badly that he couldn’t tell her features. The woman, who gave her name as “Jane,” presumably got away from her abusive husband after Daniel gave her some money.
Flash forward to years later. Daniel, having just inherited a title, goes wife-hunting for someone to help run his estates. At the same time, newly widowed Jessie is looking for a husband to protect her from her nephew-in-law. The nephew, Frederick, expected to inherited his Uncle Philip’s title, and instead, Philip found a loophole to leave the title to his and Jessie’s daughter Beth. Frederick is unpleasant enough about this shock that Jessie fears for her and her daughter’s safety, so she goes looking for a protective man to marry her. This will keep Frederick, Beth’s closest mail relative, from becoming the new Baroness Kelham’s legal guardian.
When they meet, Daniel and Jessie fall into instant lust, but is that enough for two sensible people who have specific practical needs to build a marriage? And what IS the truth about Jessie’s past? When will Daniel figure out that he met Jessie once as Jane? Exactly how many skeletons does Jessie have in her closet, and can a genuinely good man like Daniel stand being married to a “wicked” woman?
MY TWO CENTS: There’s something about this couple that really spoke to me. Daniel is an absolutely good guy, but he never trips over into judgmental. Jessie has endured a lot of mental and physical abuse in her life, and while she’s not exactly a wilting damsel in distress, there’s a relief and joy in seeing Daniel help her with her problems. I felt like these two really connected, and I rooted for them to get together and be happy.
I was afraid that the ending was going to be too predictable, but it wasn’t. There are some twists and turns that keep me guessing until the end. There were also fewer instances of Putney’s usual repeated phrases that pull me out of the reading experience. People still “frown thoughtfully” and say things “ruefully,” but not as often as in other recent Putney books.
The reader also gets to visit some previous characters, which helps firmly establish this couple in the Lost Lords world. There’s an appearance by Lady Agnes as well.
BOTTOM LINE: While I always look forward to a Mary Jo Putney book, I found this one more enjoyable than most. I didn’t want to quit reading until I had finished it, and I’m looking forward to the next Lost Lord. I’m guessing he’ll be Captain Gordon, “Lady Agnes’s one failure.”
TEACUP RATING: Four-and-a-half out of five teacups.
ON SALE DATE: Available August 25, 2015, in paperback and eformats.
Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.