Maggie thought she was married to an earl . . . but it seems that her late and unlamented husband lied to her from the day they met. Now—penniless and stranded in London—she has thrown herself on the mercy of the real Lord Warwick. What’s a counterfeit countess to do?
Edward, the Earl of Warwick, desires only to get rid of the beautiful woman who arrived at his house with no less than fourteen trunks, a younger sister, a maid, and a very large cat. Her preposterous explanation is of no importance—but her late husband held the clue to the identity of England’s greatest traitor, a clue the Foreign Service must get at any cost. Edward will have to guard her night and day—but he cannot guard his heart.
Source: ARC from author
My Rating: 4/5 stars
It’s not every day Edward, the Earl of Warwick wakes up to the dulcet tones of a gaggle of women in his front room. It is most certainly not every day one of those women announces she is the countess of Warwick and she has finally come home to claim what her late husband left her. Since, Edward is fairly certain he is both unmarried and still alive, there must be some mistake.
Maggie has had one hell of a life. Born and raised in America, she never thought she would find herself married to an English earl nor did she ever think that earl would turn out to be a traitor and leave her and her sister, destitute and alone in a foreign land. Not one to be kept down for long, Maggie makes the bold decision to be the countess she legitimately thought she was and that means taking over Edward’s home until she can figure out her next move. What Maggie did not at all count on is how exceedingly handsome and kind the Earl of Warwick is.
From the moment Edward sees Maggie in his entryway, he is taken with her. Not just her appearance but also her intelligence, quick wit and penchant for simply speaking her mind. She is clearly in a fix and though Edward has no idea what to do about her presence in his home, he does know who to ask. With a bit of information from Maggie, Edward learns her traitorous husband is indeed dead and that is information Edward’s employer will certainly want to know. Maggie’s late husband wasn’t just a fraud, he was a spy and with England embroiled in a war with France, it is risky to let Maggie go before Edward can gain every bit of intelligence possible. Maggie agrees to help Edward but only if he will allow her and her sister to stay in his home until she can find an appropriate husband.
Within just a few days’ time, Maggie is introduced to society, the suitor’s line up, and it becomes very clear that someone thinks Maggie knows far more than she does about her late husband’s activities. When her room at Edward’s home is searched and virtually destroyed, a possible informant is killed before she and Edward can question him, and she is attacked, Edward decides it is time to take her into hiding until the mystery can be solved. Danger always seems to breed intense attraction and it doesn’t take long for Maggie to fall into Edward’s bed. Wracked with guilt over his actions, Edward must quickly determine exactly where Maggie fits into his life and what he is willing to sacrifice to be with her long-term.
The Bottom Line: Once again, Cheryl Bolen comes through for me with a solid historical romance. Maggie is by far my favorite character in this read with her strong will, her often runaway mouth (the candy to keep from talking had me laughing out loud!), her quick mind, and overall resilience make her an easy to root for character. Edward is really just an excellent match for Maggie and once he accepts she is meant to be his, he goes all out in efforts to help her. The suspense and level of drama in this read is just right to keep the plot moving along at a brisk pace but it is really the dialogue that carries the story. From start to finish, Maggie and Edward are engaged with one another, with the mystery surrounding her late husband, and all the other characters that factor into their lives. Of those other characters, Maggie’s younger sister is a favorite and I was most pleased to see her story is up next in the Brazen Brides series.
Click HERE to read an excerpt on Cheryl’s website.
About the author and where to find her:
Cheryl Bolen is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of over 20 romances, both historical and contemporary mystery. Many of her books have placed in contests, including the Daphne du Maurier (romantic suspense) and have been translated into ten languages. She was Notable New Author in 1999. In 2006 she won the Holt Medallion, Best Historical, and in 2012 she won Best Historical in the International Digital Awards and she’s had four other titles place in that competition. Her 2011 Christmas novella was named Best Novella in the Romance Through the Ages.