The tenth novel in the Cynster series both lives up to the expectations built by its predecessors, and also brings along something a little different. I love the Cynster family and have enjoyed watching them match up with there mates. Here, some years after the events of ‘On a Wicked Dawn’ Simon Cynster is going to a house party attended by, amongst others, his brother-in-laws sister (i.e. no blood relation) Portia Ashford. Simon and Portia have known each other for 10 years, and have spent the time challenging each other at every turn. Unknown to the other, both of them have recently resolved to investigate the potential of marriage. The intelligent, cerebral and at the same time beautiful Portia vows to seriously consider all at the house party. Simon has already decided, the way Cynster males invariably do come to eventually, that it is time for him to find his own branch of his family – to have and to hold.
Both Simon and Portia know themselves and each other pretty well. They come to recognise the latent attraction, which bursts into passion (phew, nearly sets the pages alight!) as Simon tutors Portia in the ways of physical love, while also trying to win her over emotionally.
Portia is definitely a thinking woman. She’s always leaving the house to go off and think, or pacing the library (or drawing room, or her bedroom….) and pondering on her situation. This often slows the action down, and there’s action aplenty to be had because this is also a strong murder mystery book. The murder and resulting investigation naturally moves the story along, and I think it needed it. Portia is an interesting woman, but once she’s thought about her situation, assessed it and come to a decision – get on with it already! This is a small moan, for the main part I found her thought process to be fascinating, especially where she and Simon were thinking the same, and where they think differently. At one point Simon ruefully realises that Portia knows what drives him more than he does himself!
I wasn’t keen on was how class conscious Portia appears. Social class is often in Portia’s thoughts and although realistic for a member of the ton, I didn’t find it attractive. Nonetheless, overall this book is a great addition to the series – well written, intelligent, passionate, evocative. I’m not one for murder mysteries in general, but here Laurens has blended the two genres with great skill and capability.