Setting - England 1804 --- When governess Isabel Halloran found that her 17-year-old wayward, promiscuous charge was missing from her bed, she roused the nanny to help her locate the chit before she did something foolish and have the staff blamed for her mischief. Finding her charge lying naked in one of the wealthy visiting gentlemen's bedroom, she and nanny hauled her off and locked her in her bedroom. When the willful teenager taunted Isabel that she purposely left her bracelet in the bed in order to effect a forced marriage, Isabel rushed back to the room to retrieve it, only to be caught herself.
Unknowingly, Michael Severson came back to his room and found an intoxicatingly lovely woman who he was immediately attracted to. He began to seduce her and Isabel who was mesmerized by him was a willing participant until his host, and her employer, came along with witnesses to barge into his room, expecting to see his daughter being compromised and not the governess.
Initially refusing but then through a series of events and good intentioned friends, Isabel is finally persuaded by Michael to marry him - innocently putting a great deal of trust in a man who she'd only just met. Unfortunately, Michael had ulterior motives in his proposal once he'd discovered that she was the bastard child of Lord Elswick, a man who ten years earlier had attempted to have him convicted for murder. A deed Michael believed Elswick's son Henry had committed and Michael was determined to prove. However, Michael soon falls in love with Isabel about the same time she discovers the real reason he married her, but too late - for although Isabel had lost her heart to him, she had also lost her trust.
Once again, Cathy Maxwell, the mistress of unforgettable and sweet romances, hits a homerun with her latest novel having all the elements I've come to expect from her - vision, integrity, fabulous characterizations and all kinds of heart. She writes with intelligence and enormous feeling as these two wonderful protagonists come to terms with each other taking a leap of faith to accept the gift of a once in a lifetime love. The mystery of the murder was deftly handled and neatly tied up at the end. Additionally, she teases the reader with unforgettable characters that one can only hope to see revealed in greater detail in future sequels to this grand beginning. Bottom Line - This goes on my keeper shelf with spaces next to it for the sequels I pray come as soon as possible. --- Marilyn Rondeau (...)---