“Forced into a marriage of convenience, Elissande and Vere are each about to discover that they’re not the only one with a hidden agenda. With seduction their only weapon – and a dark secret from the past endangering both their lives – can they learn to trust each other even as they surrender to a passion that won’t be denied?”
The Marquess of Vere, to most people, is a man that should not be taken too seriously. It’s common knowledge that Lord Vere was a brilliant man in his younger years. A riding accident that occurred while Vere was in the prime of his life left him addled in the head. Vere was never quite the same. Most people perceive him to be an idiot but what most people do not know is that Lord Vere prefers it that way. Lord Vere works for the Crown and is a spy. The guise of the idiot allows him to learn vital information without raising suspicions. His latest case is against Edmund Douglas, a man who earned his wealth from a diamond mine in South Africa. Douglas is now suspected of extorting the diamond jewelers of Antwerp.
Elissande Edgerton has been kept under lock and key in her uncle’s home for the past eight years. Her Aunt Rachel is her only solace. Most would see Aunt Rachel as a burden as she is unable to care for herself and is addicted to laudanum. Elissande dreams of the day when she and Aunt Rachel will escape the evil clutches of her Uncle Edmund. Uncle Edmund demands that he be shown the love and respect that are due him and so Elissande plays the part of the doting niece to survive.
Vere and his associates plan a rat infestation in a home near Douglas’ hoping to be allowed to stay at Douglas’ home and gather incriminating evidence against their host. The infestation occurs during one of Douglas’ business trips and Elissande sees an opportunity to escape. Elissande allows the party to stay in hopes of catching a husband and escaping Uncle Edmund forever. Elissande ends up with more than she bargained for when she starts her entrapment.
For starters, she sets her sights on Lord Vere. His title and wealth could protect her from her uncle. After their first discussion together, Elissande decides that she must settle for Lord Vere’s younger brother Freddie. Thankfully, she does have an infatuation with Freddie so even though he isn’t titled she can still have a good relationship with him. She asks Freddie to meet with her in the library long after every one has gone to bed in the hopes of setting up her trap. In the end, she ends up entrapping Lord Vere.
What follows is a wonderful love story about two people who don’t know anything about the other except the masks that they wear. Along the way, they learn each other’s hopes, fears and secrets.
This is my first book by Sherry Thomas but it certainly won’t be my last. Thomas brilliantly brings together two people who are so alike and yet neither one knows it. Both Vere and Elissande wear masks and no one gets to see what is behind them. Watching these two grow and learn about each other is a treat. Edmund Douglas, Thomas’ villain is evil and gives you chills but he isn’t larger than life. There could be an Edmund Douglas in your own city and that in my opinion is what makes him all the more terrifying. If you consider yourself a fan of historical romance I strongly suggest that you do not pass this novel by.