Chester Peyton, the Marquess of Astwick, has never forgotten his first love. Nor has he ever gotten over her. But now thirteen years later, time has come for him to finally settle down and do his duty as far as both his title and his dragon of a mother are concerned. Everything would be so much easier if Chet’s heart didn’t still belong to the enchanting Scot he gave it to once upon a time.
After following her late-husband’s regiment from one end of the continent to the other, Lady Hannah Campbell returns to London a very different woman than the naïve lass she once was. With her two sons in tow, she now has to navigate the waters of the ton, which seem more foreign than the lands she has traversed the last dozen years. And all the while, she has to keep hidden the scandalous secret that made her flee England so very ago.
Chester (Chet) Peyton, Marquess of Astwick has three problems: 1) his meddling mother; 2) his need to marry and; 3) the memory of his first love.
Lady Hannah Campbell has three problems: 1) she is now a widow with two small boys; 2) she is back in England and; 3) the memory of her first love.
Hannah’s return to England is something she thought would never happen and something she is not at all comfortable with. The last time Hannah was in England she was a young woman whose heart and dreams had just been shattered by the man she loved. With no hope of reconciliation, Hannah salvages what is left of her pride and accepts the marriage proposal of Lord Campbell. For ten years Hannah followed her husband back and forth across the continent but after his death she had no choice but to return to her family in England. Within days of her arrival, Hannah is face to face with the one man she thought never to see again.
Chet has spent ten long years comparing every woman he meets to Hannah and none have ever come close to his lost love. The moment Chet sees Hannah again during an “accidental” encounter, every feeling he has harbored comes rushing back and he decides that this time, nothing will stand in his way of having Hannah. No matter what he has to do, Hannah Campbell and her boys are his! But first, Chet and Hannah need to clear the air.
The Bottom Line: A Scandalous Secret is quite the introduction to Ava Stone and her brand of historical fiction. This read has a little bit of everything including a long, lost love romance, total misunderstandings and, secrets that were never meant to see the light of day. As this is only a novella length read, everything plays out very quickly. With that being said, my only real complaint about this read is its length. Though everything plays out in a believable way, I would have very much liked to see Hannah’s story be extended to a full length novel. Hannah is a strong and immensely likeable character as is the Vicountess Staveley, the woman responsible for Chet and Hannah’s “accidental” reunion. A little more of each of these women would certainly not have gone unappreciated.