This one’s part historical romance and part mystery, doing a good job of weaving them together. Leopold Randall was forced by his uncle, a very wicked duke indeed, to do his bidding with the whereabouts of Leopold’s kidnapped siblings as ransom for his obedience. Now Leopold is back to look for clues after the death of his uncle. It’s all he wants, but he finds his cousin’s widow in need of help to protect her young son, the current Duke of Romsey – and Leopold holds no grudge against a young child.
Mercy has no good reason to have liked her father-in-law, but after his death she’s at her wit’s end trying to keep the estate running without help, and that’s without the anonymous threats she’s been receiving. Her late husband’s cousin might be the help she needs. She readily gives him permission to look through the old man’s papers in exchange for help sorting those papers out.
I liked this a lot, particularly the way that Leopold and Mercy have both been manipulated and used by the old duke, giving them a shared interest in working together to solve past and present mysteries. I’m not entirely convinced by Mercy chasing after Leopold quite so brazenly in a setting with serious consequences for her if she’s caught, but I can certainly see why she wants him after even a short acquaintance, and why he wants her. It’s a pity that the book had a very bad case of greengrocer’s apostrophe – “whoops, there’s an s coming up!”. It was so distracting that I very nearly gave up reading a few chapters in, and it would have been a shame if I had.
The book’s the first in a series, but can be read as a standlone.
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