Let me begin this review with a confession. Anne Stuart is one of my book crack authors. After I devoured my first Stuart book decades ago, I searched for more. She is my most expensive book glom. Well worth every penny spent and every minute searching on eBay.
Bryony Russell and her two younger sisters are left close to penniless after their father passed away six weeks ago. Their father was a wealthy shipping magnate who was accused embezzling money from his company. Everyone believes that he died from a carriage accident while trying to flee England.
Her father left a note:
“Don’t trust any of them. Someone’s stealing money, and it looks like Kilmartyn’s in league with them, no matter what excuses he makes. Don’t trust Morgan either. Never trust a pirate. Something’s going on, and I’ll get to the bottom of it…”
This note leads them to believe that their father may have been murdered. Bryony plans to investigate Adrian Bruton, Earl of Kilmartyn, and discover if he is responsible for her father’s death and also if he embezzled the money.
Adrian has a difficulty maintaining a housekeeper. Bryony’s plan is to apply for that position. She figures that she’s better suited for housekeeper than maid because she “knows more about running a household than…dusting and cleaning.”
Bryony disguises herself as a widow and goes to the Kilmartyn home. When Bryony interviews with Adrian’s wife, she is turned down the position because his wife doesn’t want to be surrounded by ugliness. The ugliness is the smallpox scars on Bryony’s face. Luckily for Bryony, Adrian intervenes and hires her.
Adrian does this mainly to spite his wife. He was forced to marry her after she blackmailed him with her knowledge of his deep dark secret.
Since Bryony must report directly to Adrian, they spend much time together. That spark of interest at the interview becomes simmers.
Adrian is the epitome of the Stuart hero: dark, brooding and ambiguous. Sometimes you’re not sure if you should root him. He knows that Bryony is not whom she claims she is.
I enjoyed the time spent with Bryony and Adrian as they try to figure out what each other is really doing. Neither trust each other. Both are very much attracted to each other.
The weakest part of the book is the wife. She’s very one-dimensional. It’s never revealed how she found out about Adrian’s secret.
Because this is the first book in the trilogy, there is a teensy thread unresolved. I look forward to reading the next book. A Russell sister investigates a pirate.
ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley.
Amazon Prime Members Can Borrow Book For Free Never Kiss a Rake (Scandal at the House of Russell)