Release Date: 6/27/17
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Magdalen aka Maddie is the illegitimate daughter of the Earl Marischal of Scotland, she meets Lord Aiden, the second son of the Duke of Atholl at a masked ball hosted by her father. Aiden is a first lieutenant in the navy and he, along with his shipmates are in port for one night. He is immediately drawn to Maddie. They share a kiss and part ways. Neither knows who the other is, as they only exchanged first names, but neither forgets the other.
Three months later, Maddie’s estranged stepmother comes to her with news that her father has been arrested and is being held in London. The countess is heavy with child and cannot make the trip – she insists that Maddie goes in her place. Aiden is also in London, he has been granted a two week leave for the first time in almost two years and he has big plans for his time. They meet again when Aiden comes to Maddie’s aid. They quickly realize their prior connection and Aiden offers to help Maddie. They work together to free her father and become much better “acquainted” but their blossoming love will be tested when Aiden is recalled to his ship early. Maddie remains in London and is able to have her father released – but there are conditions to the release and those conditions mean Maddie must stay in London too. The queen has “requested” that Maddie stay and play the harp for her and Maddie’s father has “requested” that she spy on the queen for him. She is not happy with either scenario, but feels duty bound to comply.
Over a year has passed when Maddie learns that Aiden’s ship was attacked and that they are in Portsmouth for repairs. She offers to go to Portsmouth to show the crown’s support and to tend the wounded. When they meet on the ship, she is overjoyed that he is safe and he is stunned and elated to see her. They barely have any time together when Aiden is summoned to London by his father. His brother was killed in battle and Aiden is now the Marquis of Tullibardine and his father’s sole heir. On the journey back to London, Maddie tries to offer Aiden comfort, but he is lost in his own grief. When he meets with his father, he is told that he needs to find a bride and his father forbids him to consider Maddie. Aiden at first refuses, but his father uses his mother’s grief to bring him to heel. Maddie is hurt and confused by Aiden’s dismissal – Aiden feels awful about the way he has been treating Maddie and tries to make amends – but Maddie isn’t having it.
Aiden has another chance at redemption when Maddie is falsely accused of trying to assassinate the queen. He rescues her from certain death and they flee together. Maddie is still hurt and makes it perfectly clear that while she is grateful for his rescue – she will not be his whore. Aiden has a lot of groveling to do before these two can have a HEA.
Just when it seems like they have overcome the past and are committed to a future together – Ms. Jarecki throws in another twist and all hope for a swift HEA is shattered.
I loved this book, it has an epic feel to it and the love story is never lost, no matter how long they are parted or by the many obstacles thrown in their path. When they finally get their HEA it is beautiful and will stay with me for a long time. The book is well written, flows wonderfully, has some very well done warm love scenes, a lot of tense moments, a lot of surprising twists and turns and finally a spectacular ending with a very believable soul-mate type of love.
It is the second book in the series, but it is very loosely tied to the first and could easily be read as a stand alone title. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to Reid’s book, Highland Guardian!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an uncorrected eARC provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*