Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars
Series: The Mad Morelands, Prequel
Release Date: January 28, 2020
Lady Thisbe Moreland is attending a lecture at the Covington Institute when she meets Desmond Harrison. They hit it off immediately and Thisbe can’t wait to see him again, as a female scientist too many people don’t take her seriously, but Desmond treated her with respect and admiration. They make plans to meet again, but Thisbe doesn’t tell him who she really is – the eldest child of the Duke of Broughton. She is scared that he won’t continue to see her if he knows the truth.
Desmond is also a scientist, he works for the once revered, now scorned Professor Gordon. The professor has come under ridicule for his insistence that ghosts exist – Desmond is not a believer, despite his own experience with the spirit world, but he is loyal to the professor who took him under his wing. Desmond grew up poor and is the son of a transported convict, even without knowing who her family is, he knows she is far above him in station, but he is unwilling to give up what they share and knows that eventually it will end.
When Professor Gordon’s benefactor, Mr. Wallace learns of an artifact called the Eye of Annie Blue that might be able to have the professor prove his theory, the entire team is excited. Professor Gordon writes to the owner of the artifact, the Dowager Duchess of Broughton and asks if he might be able to borrow it for study. But the duchess refuses, crushing their hopes. The professor and Mr. Wallace become obsessed and when they learn the Dowager is in town, they ask Desmond to steal it – he refuses, but agrees to check out the Dowager’s house to see if it is even possible to enter. While looking at the house, which he knows will be impossible to enter, Thisbe comes running out – she thinks he has figured out who she is and has come to see her. She invites him back to call and when his professor learns of their connection, he tries to convince Desmond to steal it – again he refuses.
Desmond is surer than ever that nothing can transpire between him and Thisbe, no matter how nice her family is to him and when her grandmother (the Dowager) has a prediction that Desmond’s love will kill Thisbe, he is sure they have no future. Thisbe has been having her own share of strange incidents in the form of dreams, but she rationalizes them and tells Desmond to ignore her grandmother’s “prediction”. She really cares for him and begins to imagine a future with him – until secrets are revealed and Desmond lets her believe the worst to save her life.
This was a well written, fast paced, page turner that held me in thrall from the first page to the last. I loved Desmond and Thisbe, they share such an incredible chemistry that you know they are meant to be, the love scenes are sparse, but they are potent and very touching without being overly graphic, the secondary characters are wonderful and even the villains are engaging. There is a bit of drama, some humor, a healthy dose of paranormal, some heartache and finally a very sweet and hard-won HEA. This is the seventh book in the series, but it is really the prequel to the “Mad Morelands” – you can read this book first or seventh without issue, but either way – read it! I loved this story and happily recommend it!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by the publisher.*