by Judith Ivory

November 2002
ISBN: 0-380-81297-5
Reviewer Graphic Button Avon Books
Mass Market Paperback

When Stuart Aysgarth received the telegram informing him that he was the new Viscount Mount Villiars, he was in Russia. Soon after, he received another telegram and then another detailing the increasing panic of his solicitors at his uncle Leonard’s attempt to usurp his claim as heir to the title, lands and accounts that he inherited. He must get to England in a hurry to make sure that he isn’t bankrupted. The fact that he hasn’t been back in England for a long time is immaterial.

Emma Hotchkiss is a sheep farmer and former con artist. When a “game” goes wrong, her and her husband Zachary, a vicar, settle in Yorkshire, until his death.

When they first meet, Emma is attempting to collect payment for the death of a male lamb that was run over by Stuart’s coach and left for dead at the side of the road. Actually, she meets his secretary first and gets the door slammed in her face for her troubles. After Emma takes this as far as she can in the local courts, with no satisfactory resolution, at least in her opinion, she decides to take matters into her own hands. Her first look at Stuart is at a bank meeting. She is struck by the richness of his coat, the polish of his boots and the richness of his voice.

Stuart finds Emma’s body and face mesmerizing. When he discovers her attempt to get money from him, he uses it to keep her with him and at the same time regain possession of some items of sentimental value that were stolen by his uncle from one of his homes.

Emma and Stuart are misfits. Stuart spent his whole life knowing that his father was an abusive womanizer and that his mother was shunned and ridiculed because she was not beautiful in the eyes of society. He did everything he could to distance himself from it. Emma was running from her past. She was afraid to open her heart because she had been hurt. She has always been the one to take care of everyone else. No one has ever taken care of her.

When Stuart convinces Emma to help him, he starts a slow seduction that she doesn’t see coming. I fell in love with these two sad, funny people. Watching them fall in love and fight it was definitely a treat.

Ms. Ivory has written a story that will have you laughing and crying. She has created characters that delight and captivate you. I always look forward to Ms. Ivory’s next book because I know that it will be worth the wait.

Reviewed in November 2002 by Carolyn.

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