Can the love of an honourable man save her from the memory of a desolate marriage?
From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams, only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice.
Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. But, her dreams are shattered, as she is taunted from the grave, discovering not only has she been left penniless, but she is once more bound to the whims of a Somerton.
But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honourable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?
Whenever I pick up an Alison Stuart novel I know I am going to love her hero and admire her heroine, and this novel did not disappoint. In this, her latest work, the author moves into the Regency era where England is still reeling from the Napoleonic wars and so many men were irrevocably damaged by their experiences. Sebastian Alder is one of these, badly injured at Waterloo, with a tragic history, I fell for him the second he shrugged off Isabel, Lady Somerton’s shake of his shoulder and gruffly demanded who she was.
Sebastian is the unwitting, and at first unwilling heir to the Somerton estate, that of Isabel’s late husband. Sebastian has to break it to this self-contained woman reluctant to display any emotion, that her husband has left her penniless and him the master of a ruined estate.
Not a good start to a romance, but Miss Stuart’s Sebastian Alder is an absolute gem and a hero to fall for. Although Isabel is not strictly his responsibility, the valiant soldier cannot abandon her, nor the various relatives and retainers who rely on him, as well as two cuckoos in the nest that come with Brantstone, his country estate.
When blackmail, murder and other dark secrets emerge and affect their present, the situation goes from bad to worse for Sebastian, the slightly naïve soldier, and Isabel, an emotionally damaged widow determined to walk away from a life that brought her only unhappiness.
A character driven story, this is a real page turner that delves into the darker areas of human nature and tests the mettle of the players. It may be a well-used formula, but an effective one which takes the reader on a roller coaster journey with a very satisfactory ending.
I look forward to more in the same genre from Alison Stuart.
Anita Davison is a Historical Fiction Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England, is released by Claymore Press under the name Anita Seymour