Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Avon (July 29, 2003)
Publisher: Avon (July 29, 2003)
Proper decorum has never come easily to Carlotta Anne Fairleigh - not even tonight, when the lovely, impetuous miss is finally making her debut. As she waits to make her entrance, she can't help wondering about the darkened house next door, the supposedly abandoned home of Hayden St. Clair, the man society has dubbed the "Murderous Marquess." Certainly one small peek through his window before the festivities would be harmless...
And, naturally, this latest "adventure" ends in disaster, thoroughly compromising the budding debutante's reputation and leaving her suddenly, unthinkably...betrothed! Soon she's en route to the wilds of Cornwall in the company of the handsome, mysterious marquess whose name the ton whisper with fear and loathing.
Yet there is something thrilling - and surprisingly tender - about her dark, unreachable groom, and the desire in his eyes is undeniable. But before Lottie will surrender to the yearnings in her heart, she must unlock the secrets of Hayden's past, no matter how scandalous - or perilous - they may be.
This was my first Teresa Medeiros book, and thanx to Jodi's rec, I enjoyed it very much. Lottie was a fun heroine, prone to adventures and satisfying her insatiable curiosity. Hayden was a tortured, stoic, handsome hero in serious need of someone to care for him. Together they heal each other and end up falling in love.
Lottie is a writer, you see, and loved to find things to write about. She was also prone to much mischief, and was dubbed the "Hertfordshire Hellion" as a result of it. Never in her wildest imaginings however, did she picture herself in the arms of Hayden St. Clair, the Murderous Marquess, or the scandal that would follow.
After the tragic death of his wife years ago, Hayden has shut himself away from society and the gossips who think him a true monster. While in London on business, Hayden encounters the bold young miss sneaking a peek in his window, and mistakes her for a less virtuous woman. When they are found in a compromising position, Hayden reluctantly agrees to marry Lottie, though she just might be the woman he's looking for, in more ways than one.
I thoroughly enjoyed their story, and I liked Lottie a lot. She was young and impulsive, but also smart, optimistic, and not afraid to face the challenges her new life throws at her. She has a soft heart and a love of merriment that is contagious. Hayden is more withdrawn, and rightfully so. His previous marriage ended in tragedy, and he's not the only one affected by the death of his wife. Never does he imagine that the presence of his new wife to heal the wounds he's suffered for so long, or to bring light into his life again. It was sweet to see him proven wrong.
As much as I liked the book, I still felt Hayden kept himself too distant from what was going on, and from those who cared about him most, and it isn't until nearly the end of the book that he lets himself finally open his heart to happiness once again. I was almost ready to give up on him, and I knew that the HEA was going to happen no matter what. Other than that, I found this to be a delightful story. And I intend to read the other 2 books by Medeiros I have in my tbr pile.
**** out of *****