Series: Imperfect Lords, #2
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Lady Penelope “Pen” Fisherton needs help clearing her name, her brother in law, Lord Rotham wants her inheritance and has accused Penelope of killing her husband. If his accusations are proven, Penelope will be charged with murder and Rotham will claim her fortune for himself. She has come to London from Essex to bribe Stephen Hornsby, the Marquess of Clevedon into helping her. Stephen is a spy, a rake and a lover of beauty, Penelope plans to outbid him on a painting he wants and use it as leverage to get him to help her.
Stephen has a secret, he is going blind just as his father before him, as a lover of beauty, this terrifies him, the painting of a sunrise is especially lovely and he wants it so he can burn the image in his mind before he loses his sight. He is surprised by the beautiful woman bidding against him, but wins the painting. Intrigued by her, he tracks her down, to give her the painting. And when he meets her, he learns why she wanted it. He agrees to help her on one condition – she will let him try to seduce her. She agrees, but has no plans of letting him succeed.
Stephen needs more information and goes to see her brother, the Duke of Sandringham, he learns about Pen’s unhappy marriage and Carmichaels untimely death. He tells Pen they will need to go to Essex and she agrees. On the trip, he begins his seduction and she is upset to learn that she is not as immune as she thought. They stay with his sister, who is married to Pen’s dear friend Jonathan, and both of them are a bit envious of the couples obvious love. By the time they reach her home, she has figured out his secret and confronts him. A talk with his sister, makes him realize how selfish he has been regarding his plans for when his sight finally fails. He returns to the house to find Pen waiting for him. They talk and Pen seduces him.
They are falling in love and they discuss marriage, but Stephen still needs to clear Pen’s name. His investigation turns up information about Carmichael that is truly shocking and nearly gets him killed. Pen cares for him while he is injured, she knows that she should tell him the secret she has been keeping from him, but is scared he will think she used him, she uses the time together to prove to him that she loves him. When he is healed, he leaves to go to London to speak to the magistrate, he will clear her name and return to her to marry.
But while staying with his sister on his return, he gets a note that changes everything. He returns to Pen, but instead of the loving reunion she expected, Stephen accuses her of using and betraying him. The HEA she envisioned crumbles before her eyes. She tries to explain, but his insecurities lead him to believe the worst. She is heartbroken and desperate to prove to him her love is true, but her past catches up to her before she can find him and it may be too late.
This is a well written book (there were a few inconsistencies and title errors, but I assume that they will be corrected prior to publication) that moves at a steady pace. Stephen and Penelope are both flawed, broken people who don’t believe that love is their destiny, but as they get to know each other, they find love and because of their insecurities, almost lose it. There are cameos with Alex & Hestia, steamy love scenes, a nail biting ending, a hard won HEA and a very sweet epilogue. I liked the book but honestly, I really, really had a hard time buying the plot, it made no sense to me why Pen would seek out Stephen’s help without telling him her secret or why she would want him to investigate in the first place. I don’t feel like that aspect of the story was ever explained and it left me feeling confused. This is the second book in the series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand alone.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an uncorrected eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*