"Silk and Secrets" is the second book in Mary Jo Putney's Silk Trilogy, and I really would recommend reading the books in order. I say that because I did *not* (I read the third entry, "Veils of Silk", first.) Much of the plotline of "Silk and Secrets" is discussed in the final book, so the plot twists were really no surprise to me and this detracted slightly from my enjoyment of the story.
Lord Ross Carlisle (now the Marquess of Kilburn), the hero of "Silk and Secrets", was introduced in the first book of the trilogy ("Silk and Shadows") as Mikahl's best friend and Lady Sara's cousin. The younger son of a duke who has traveled extensively and written about his adventures, Ross is the epitome of upper-crust British manners and sangfroid. He is also fabulously handsome, intelligent, loyal, brave and amazingly even-tempered (in a word, pretty darn *perfect*.) At age 21, Ross had married the wild, unconventional 17 year old Scottish beauty, Juliet Cameron, against almost everyone's advice and six months later she abandoned him for reasons that Ross still does not understand.
After not seeing his wife for 12 years, Ross is reunited with her (ahem, by *chance*) in Persia when he is sent by her mother to discover the fate of Juliet's brother, Ian, a British army officer who has disappeared in Bokhara and is rumored to have been executed as a spy. Juliet is a great heroine--brave, adventurous, passionate and flawed. She is living in Persia in true Lady Hester Stanhope style--as the leader of a small fortress community. Juliet convinces Ross to take her along to find Ian and the two travel the Silk Road in disguise with a caravan to Bokhara. The dangerous trip is complicated by Ross and Juliet's simmering attraction to each other, Ross's feelings of anger and hurt over Juliet's past faithlessness and Juliet's crushing guilt over her past behavior.
Mary Jo Putney does an excellent job of developing the characters of Ross and Juliet--strong, adventurous, passionate people who are still beset by insecurities and whose imperfections make them more realistic. I have to say that I loved the fact that Ross had never gotten over Juliet in *12 years*--that's true love! The story is jam-packed with adventure, although I could have done without having every event described through first Ross then Juliet's point-of-view. I enjoyed the unusual setting and, as usual, MJP fills the story with rich historical detail in a way that is mostly unobtrusive.
In summary, this is a very well-written historical romance with an exotic setting, a wonderful hero who is truly a *great guy* and a strong, unique heroine.