After nine years as proprietress of The Distinguished Academy of Governesses, Miss Hannah Setterington, has sold the establishment in favor of delving into her unknown roots. But first, she has accepted one last post as companion to the elderly aunt of the Earl of Raeburn. She knows little about her new employer, except he is newly titled, and rumored to have murdered his wife, a fact Hannah feels has most likely been fabricated. Arriving at Castle Raeburn late in the evening during a storm, the mysterious lord insists she attend him immediately. Hannah is shocked to discover she intimately knows Lord Raeburn. His name is actually Dougald Pippard, the man she loved, and ran away from nine years ago.
Dougald has been diligently searching for Hannah all these years, and her arrival at his home was painstakingly planned, out of anger and his need for revenge. He has just the ammunition to force her into staying. He can arrange for her to meet her deceased father's parents, something she longs for. Their battle of passion and will rages out of control, but soon their attention is diverted to dangerous occurrences at the castle. The previous two earls were each killed in an accident that took place shortly after coming into the title. Now Dougald has been shot at, and attacked, so it would appear he is next to be eliminated. Therefore, he and Hannah will need to solve the mystery and capture the culprit, before they can finally settle their differences, and discover if their future lies together.
This is the third installment in the Governess Bride Series, and while this particular story is probably my least favorite of the six, its still very good and well worth reading.
I found it somewhat difficult to like the character of Dougald in the beginning of the book, since he was cold and bent on revenge at that point. Of course, he did thaw out and redeem himself, but he was more of a dark and brooding type hero. Hannah was the typical Dodd heroine I enjoy - intelligent, independent and pragmatic. The love scenes were quite sensual, and the mystery subplot was engrossing and very well done. The humor Ms. Dodd does so well was present, although more subdued in this story. Dougald's aunt, and the assorted elderly ladies who also live in the castle, supplied the majority of the fun and witty dialogue. They could all be quite outrageous at times.
Ms. Dodd is one of the few authors I buy sight unseen. For those who would like to know the series order, it is as follows: RULES OF SURRENDER, RULES OF ENGAGEMENT, RULES OF ATTRACTION, IN MY WILDEST DREAMS, LOST IN YOUR ARMS, and MY FAVORITE BRIDE.