From the Back Cover:
A Reckless Desire...
Lady Clarissa Bevington is in trouble. A reckless indiscretion has left her with two choices: ruin her family with the scandal of the Season, or marry Mr. Kincraig, the notorious scoundrel mistaken as her lover. Desperate and disgraced, Clarissa vows to love and cherish a veritable stranger, a man whose eyes smolder with danger—and undeniable desire...
An Unexpected Arrangement
As an agent for the Crown, Lord Dominick Blackmer has spent the last two years guarding Clarissa's grandfather from an unknown assassin while disguised as the rakehell Kincraig. His mission may now be over, but his duty has just begun. Salvaging his beautiful, impetuous wife's virtue will cost him his fortune and his position as an officer—but it might save him from the ghosts that haunt his own past. When their marriage "in name only" leads to exquisite seduction, Dominick must risk the only thing he has left to lose . . . his heart.
Dominick Blackmer has just finished a punitive undercover body guard assignment for the Crown, finally earning his way back into the intelligence agency's good graces years after a disastrous mission that resulted in the death of his first wife. He has only to make it through Lady Clarissa Bevington's coming-out ball, and then he's off to throw himself back into the world of international intrigue. But fate has a different plan.
Clarissa has been dreaming of her society debut for months, planning the perfect setting to announce her betrothal to her secret beau. But a devastating betrayal leads to a public scene and a terrible misunderstanding when a concerned Dominick is found comforting her. Though he wants nothing more than to reclaim his former life, his noble heart and allegiance to Clarissa's grandfather won't allow him to abandon her to her folly. A hasty marriage takes place, and Dominick is forced to take his bride to the last place he ever wanted to go . . . home. Thrown together in close quarters as they make the long journey to his family estate, the newlyweds get to know each other and make a surprising discovery: a smoldering desire between them and the possibility of a true partnership. But troubles await them at their destination, and just when Dominick believes he will be able to finally put his anguished past behind him and embrace the future he never thought he'd have, the past catches up to him with a vengeance, and it has its sights set on his beautiful new bride.
This is the third book in a series, but aside from a few pages at the beginning that had my head spinning while I was introduced to all of the players from the previous books, this one stands alone just fine. I was instantly drawn to Dominick's wounded heart and his honor and nobility. He's a little bitter and rough around the edges to start, but he is heroic to a fault. Clarissa is younger and naive, and at first I was put off by her fairly instant attraction to Dominick since she was still reeling from having been betrayed by a man she thought she was in love with. It made her seem a bit flighty and shallow, but to her credit, she acknowledges this. Her circumstances require her to do some growing up pretty quickly, and she turns out to be a compassionate and spirited counterpart to Dominick's brooding stoicism. I really enjoyed watching them bring out the best in each other while discovering the joy of having found true love.
In terms of the historical in this historical romance, it's on the lighter side. There are some vague references to the war with the French, but nothing specific, and I would have liked a little more given Dominick's employment as a spy for more than a decade. However, the time period is lushly rendered with hundreds of little details that combine effortlessly to provide an immersive experience. And Dominick's former work does eventually come into play as his darkest secrets are revealed, setting the scene for the exciting and dangerous climax.
Overall, I thought this was a very well-written romance with a little bit of everything I like in a book: compelling characters, angst and excitement, and true love--and in the perfect combination of sweet, sassy, and sexy. I look forward to reading more from Lily Dalton.
My Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
This review originally appeared at Romantic Historical Reviews.