This is the last book of Gray's Affairs by Moonlight trilogy, and in it we see the pairing of Miss Abigail Harewood with Arthur Penhallow, the Duke of Wallingford. Although it can be read as a stand alone book, it's best to read the other two books in the series as the common events in each of the books are told from a different perspective, allowing a better understanding of what really transpired.
Abigail Harewood is a nonpareil, a young woman who strives to be unconventional. She does not do this by directly flaunting society, but chooses to engage in her own pursuits and interests. She bets on horse racing, become friends with men at pubs, and is a lover of classics. Unlike other young women, she does not want to get married for fear of losing her independence, but wishes to take a lover and experience passion. For this purpose, she picked the Duke of Wallingford to be her target once it becomes known they will be renting the same castle for a year. Wallingford, however, took a vow of chastity and tries his best to resist Abigail, only to surrender his heart and body to her.
The most wonderful aspect of this novel are the characters. There is so much depth in Wallingford that a mere description would not do him justice. He is the typical jaded libertine who has bedded hundreds of women without surrendering a bit of his heart. At his core, he is a sensitive and caring individual who is truly afraid of living up to his reputation for the rest of his life, not being able to be live without women and never finding more than a physical satisfaction with any of them. He sees Abigail with her innocence and angelic features as a temptation at first, but it is he who later grovels continuous at Abigail's feet, trying to get her to believe in his steadfastness. He is at once a man and a boy, sure of his standing and authority but sensitive to his own faults and afraid of failing the expectations of those he loves.
Abigail is such a singular character that it is quite impossible to strictly categorize her. She is intelligent, innocent in a refreshing way, but remarkably perspective of herself, others, and society. She knows what is expected of her but decides to forgo that for her own pursuits. She is seemingly naive yet so astute in her assessment of situations and people. She sees Wallingford for the man he is underneath, and comes to love him for him, but could not bring herself to trust that he will not stray in his love. In this story, she undergoes a transformation from a young miss looking for passion to a loving wife characteristic of Odysseus' Penelope, well deserving of Wallingford's love.
The ghost aspect in this story was also very interesting. At the end of the first book it becomes clear that there are ghosts in the castle, while at the end of the second book it seems that Wallingford's grandfather, the Duke of Olympia, was somehow involved in leasing the castle to the three men and three women. This story provides the history of the castle along with the curse explained, which plays a big role in Abigail's behavior as well as the other couples'love stories. The conclusion of this story resolves the curse and leads to a happily-ever-after in Shakespearean style, all the characters making merry and leaving a little ambiguity over the ghosts' future.
All in all, this is a fantastic conclusion to the trilogy, and a wonderful book in itself. There are some aspects I feel are unnecessary and a bit overdone, but it is a great read nonetheless, centered on two complex and unique characters who finally found all they had wanted in each other. Despite the negative reviews I've seen, I strongly urge those who want an intriguing and original historical romance to pick up this book right away.