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Winter Fire (Mallorens & Friends series Book 6) Kindle Edition
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An unwanted betrothal isn't going to prevent Ash from fulfilling his destiny. He intends to confront his cousin and discover the truth about his late aunt's death. Ashart cannot allow himself to be deterred by the warmth of a Malloren Christmas, or the passion which flares between him and his fake fiancee. Especially not when he suspects that the mysterious Miss Smith might have been thrown in his path by his cousin, and mortal enemy, the enigmatic Lord Rothgar. Even if Genova is an innocent caught in a family feud, what future could there be for a sea captain's daughter and a member of the aristocracy?
But it's Christmas, and for a Malloren are not all things possible?
Ashart, who has been in some disfavour with the king of late, suspects a plot to discredit him - and he thinks that the plot originates with Rothgar. So he takes advantage of having been caught in a compromising position with Genova to claim that they are engaged, since this gives him an excuse to accompany his great-aunts to Rothgar Abbey.
Readers of the Malloren series will be aware that Rothgar's mother went mad and strangled his younger sister. Ashart is the nephew of the late Marchioness of Rothgar, and his grandmother, by whom he was brought up, was her mother - and it is the Dowager Marchioness of Ashart who feeds the hatred within Ash for the Malloren clan. So Ashart is far from kindly-disposed towards his cousin.
Rothgar, on the other hand, sees his cousin's presence in his home as an opportunity to heal the rift, putting past enmities behind them. As he says to Bryght, he wants to make a proper cousin out of Ash. But will he succeed?
As for Genova, while on the one hand Ash infuriates her, on the other hand she has never before been so attracted to a man. The kisses he trades with her for guineas (for the child's upbringing) make her burn in a way she has never experienced. Yet he's a marquess and she's a nobody. He also confesses to her, as they become closer and become friends, that he has to marry for money - in fact, she's well aware that his chosen bride is also at the Abbey. So their relationship has no future - unless she's prepared to accept his offer to make her his mistress.
This is another excellent book from Beverley, offering what many of her loyal readers have been asking for: a further visit to the Malloren clan. It was good to see many of the family in their married state - again, disappointingly, Fort has a very minor role. Given his animosity to the Mallorens, I've always wanted to know what made him change his mind and tell Elf that he loved her. Ash is a worthy new hero, and Genova just the match for him. Again, however, I wanted to know why Ash changed his mind in the end, something we just didn't get to see. Still, highly recommended!
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