Nineteen years ago, Oliver Sharpe, the future Marquess of Stoneville's life changed when his parents died in mysterious circumstances. To survive the resulting scandal, Oliver resigned to live his life as an unrepentant rakehell. That was until his grandmother threatened to cut him off unless he settled down and wed.
In an effort to thwart his Gran's plans, Oliver aims to bring home a fake fiancé fresh from a brothel. His plans go awry when he instead finds Maria Butterworth, a spirited young American who has come to England to search for her own errant fiancé. She's far from the perfect fiancé but Oliver soon begins to realise she might be perfect for him.
This is the first in Jeffries new Hellions of Halstead Hall series focussing on five hell-raising brothers and sisters with a terrible scandal hanging over their heads. This first book focuses on the eldest brother and heir, Oliver Sharpe, the Marquess of Stoneville who has appeared as a bit character in a few of Jeffries' previous novels.
I really enjoyed this story and the interactions between Oliver and Maria. Oliver is my favourite type of hero - tortured, brooding and in desperate need of the love of a good woman. I also really liked Maria who was spirited and naïve without ever becoming a stereotype. Their interactions were typical of Jeffries - full of wit and spirit. I could have done with a bit more emotion in the story but I'm willing to admit that I might have set my expectations too high as I really enjoy Sabrina Jeffries' books and was very much looking forward to this one.
The story was interesting, engaging and never did the underlying plot of the tragedy (a plotline I'm sure will run through the whole series) overshadow the romance.
Overall, if you're looking for a well-written romance with endearing characters and a good, sound plot then you can't go wrong with this engaging story. 4 stars. The next book in the series is A Hellion in Her Bed
which features Oliver's brother Jarret.