Tracy rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Ellinghams, #4
Release Date: February 25, 2020
Emma Ellingham knows heartbreak and unrequited love, years ago she confessed her love to Sebastian Dodd, the Earl of Tinsdale, who told her he loved her too, as a sister. When Sebastian fell in love and married another, Emma was devastated, she closed off her heart and concentrated on her art, but even that seems to have deserted her. So when Jon Burwell, Viscount Kendall is jilted at the altar, Emma knows his pain and feels empathetic but she doesn’t really give him another thought for almost a year, when their paths cross again.
While exploring her brother in laws property, Emma finds a path she has not taken before, one that leads to an unfamiliar building, her curiosity gets the best of her and she approaches, she knocks and enters, she finds two men working on a machine, one of them is Jon, but it is not Jon that captures her attention – it is his machine, for the first time in years Emma feels the overwhelming desire to draw, she is overjoyed, but her joy is short lived when Jon asks her to leave. She returns home and sketches from memory, but really wants to see the machine again. She returns to the workshop and lets herself in and begins to draw, Jon finds her and sends her away, refusing to let her draw his machine. She leaves, promising not to return until she is invited. But, she hasn’t given up, she will find a way!
Jon is finally beginning to get over Dianna, the woman he loved, the one who left him at the altar and ran off with another man. He has poured all the passion he felt for her into his invention – a threshing machine. His experience with Dianna left him hurt and unable to really trust anyone, which is why he denied Emma. He is in the village when he runs into Dianna, literally. He is shocked to see her and tries to be polite, she is married and her husband inherited a barony with a nearby estate. Jon is not happy to learn she will be living close by and even more upset when Dianna’s husband joins them and is nasty to her. Despite everything she did to him, he still feels outraged on her behalf and has to stop himself from defending her. He is returning home when it begins to rain and he finds Emma lost in the woods. The rain intensifies and they take shelter in his workshop, they share a drink and he tells her of seeing Dianna in the village, she moves to comfort him and trips, he catches her and they share a kiss. She is surprised by the feelings it invokes – but they agree it was a mistake. They fall asleep and Emma wakes at dawn – she bolts, hoping to return home before anyone knows she is gone.
Jon is home getting ready to go see Emma when her brother in law arrives – he thinks it is about Emma, but is stunned to learn that Dianna’s husband had been killed the night before and servants at the house named him as the murderer!! To save Jon, Emma confesses to being with him all night. Her confession saves him, but to save their reputations, they must wed. Can they find happiness or will their past experiences with love keep them from trying to find love again?
This was a well written, well-paced story with likable characters, cameos from previous couples in the series, a murder, steamy love scenes and a HEA complete with an epilogue. I was loving this book right up to about the 85% mark and then it tanked for me. I didn’t care for Emma’s deception, I wasn’t thrilled with resolution of the murder and I was really not happy with the “punishment” the villain got. This is the fourth book in the series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone title. I enjoyed the book even though the ending was not what I was hoping for and I would be happy to recommend it.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*