Blackstone's Bride has an element of intrigue along with old secrets and lost love found again. The hero of this tale is a real winner, incredibly noble and in many ways underappreciated by the heroine until late in the novel. The romantic tension does not run smoothly mainly because the hero and heroine are nursing old hurts.
Lyle Massing, Lord Blackstone has been in the company of a powerful Greek awaiting ransom money for his release. After gaining his freedom, Lyle sails back to London and he is propositioned by the Foreign Office to spy for his country. In return he will receive his estate back which is currently being let out to cover debts. Blackstone jumps at the chance.
His assignment is to pretend to be the fiance of his former lover, Violet Hemmersy, a rich banker's daughter. They parted after a scandalous painting was revealed of a man with his mistress, a man wearing the Blackstone signet ring. When Violet heard about the painting she called off the engagement, angry and hurt that Blackstone had cheated on her.
Five years later, Violet's brother has disappeared with a packet of classified information. Blackstone is to discover information about the foreign royal entourage to arrive soon in London and to do so he must be in close proximity to Violet, since the group will be staying in Violet's home.
Violet is willing to go along with the ruse because she is genuinely worried about her brother. Her feelings toward Blackstone are confusing. She is attracted to him but does not trust him. Violet is a smart, unconventional woman or she used to be when she was engaged to Lyle. Here she is rather uptight and duty bound. She does, however stand up for her brother forcefully.
The protagonist's relationship is stiff and at first awkward. Blackstone is distant and Violet is sometimes caught in the past, she states she has no romantic interest in the hero to other women yet she is supposed to be engaged to him. I wondered about her blowing her cover. Hero Blackstone is treated almost as a stud by several married women and Violet has a tendency to put him in this category too, but to her credit she does see his more thoughtful side later.
A large part of this novel has the leads searching for elusive clues and spending time with the foreign dignitaries who might be behind Violet's brother's disappearance. Blackstone is caught between keeping a façade of indifference and giving into his passion with Violet. The reader will surmise that Blackstone is much more than he seems while Violet tends not to look beyond the obvious, this is her worst fault.
The last third of this novel runs smoother because finally this couple drops their masks of cool aloofness and become honest with each other. Violet especially becomes a heroine who a reader can admire. A frustration, however is the couple does not get to fully explore their feelings until nearly the end of this novel tender moments are rushed, and emotional declarations stated quickly. There is also a side story here with a young couple working with Blackstone which takes away some of the drama with the leads.