Young Lily Langdon was raised in a somber household. Her parents' marriage was not a happy one, yet somehow, Lily grew up with spirit, along with a childhood adoration for her brothers life long best friend, the Earl of Whitby, Edward Wallis. Whitby was her hero, and he in turn had a great affection for his friend's little sister which was one of the reasons he hadn't noticed her as a woman all grown up. To him she was still considered as another `little sister' and not the spirited woman she'd become. Additionally, Whitby enjoyed his rakish lifestyle with no entanglements and the freedom to do as he pleased.
At the annual shooting party that her brother James and wife Sophia hosted, Lily's mother was working hard at maneuvering a proper match between Lily and the youngest son of an Earl. Sophia knowing of Lily's feelings for Whitby suggested that Lily use her feminine wiles to make Whitby take notice of her as a woman. As Lily's campaign towards seduction began showing promise, tragedy struck as Whitby's fast lifestyle seemed to catch up with him and he was struck down with a mysterious illness. As Whitby, hovered between life and death, and the prognosis of his illness seemed dire. Lily resolved that she would do whatever she had in the time that was left to win his heart, and provide him an heir before his title passed to his hated cousin Magnus.
Whitby's honor raged against his body's reactions to Lily's seductive offer, but honor be damned - Lily was too passionate to resist. They married intending to make the most of the time that was left to them, then as mysteriously as it had came on, the illness went into a remission - Whitby would live! Lily's joy was marred over concern that Whitby would now feel trapped especially as she now suspected that she was pregnant. Whitby always knew that at some time he'd settle down, but thinking he was dying he entered into the marriage thinking he wouldn't be giving up his freedom. Now, knowing he would live he had was finally realizing that it wasn't the freedom he was clinging to so much as learning to overcome the dread of opening his heart to love.
*** This was another terrific Victorian romance from an author who has the ability to break down her characters souls and feed their emotional struggles onto the pages. The reader will feel the despair, the heartbreak, passion and the joy of Whitby and Lily in this very excellent character driven romance as Lily, thinking her love alone would be enough for both of them struggled while waiting for Whitby to discover the truth of what she knew lay in his heart. Lily and Whitby were first introduced in the first of MacLean's Victorian era series TO MARRY THE DUKE - and readers should be thrilled to find their story at last. MacLean continues to offer sizzling and seductive romance with a masterful touch.