Format Read: ebook from author
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: April 24, 2012
Number of Pages: 320 pages
Publisher: Kensington Brava
Formats Available: Mass market paperback, ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, All Romance Ebooks
Her secrets are coming undone…
Plagued by scandalous rumors, Rheda Kerrich will stop at nothing to restore her reputation and make an honest living for herself—and she’s determined to do it without a husband. But times are hard, and smuggling is a risky though profitable trade. So when a dashing agent for the English government catches her in the act, she desperately resists his charms and conceals her illicit profession. Until she realizes he may be the key to her ultimate freedom—and unbridled passion…
Rufus Knight, Viscount Strathmore, has never had trouble beguiling the ladies of Kent. When his search for “Dark Shadow,” a cunningly elusive smuggler, leads him to alluring and headstrong Rhe, her objections to his amorous advances merely incite a tantalizing game of cat and mouse. Soon, they’ll find the very secrets driving them apart could ensnare them in a love they can’t escape…
This was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.
It should have been “scandals” plural. The sheer number of the scandals being courted by the hero, the heroine, the heroine’s brother, the entire Kentish town of Deal, and pretty much everyone else in this tale of coastal smuggling and Napoleonic era spy-catching almost beggars the imagination.
Rufus Knight is trying to restore his family’s good name after his father’s death twelve years ago in a scandal. Not that his death was scandalous, but the results were. Death was due to a hunting accident, but a note was found on the late Viscount Strathmore’s body linking his father to treasonous spying for the French.
Rufus himself is now an English agent and searching for answers. He’s almost caught up to them. The smuggler, “Dark Shadow,” has been sending messages to the French, and Dark Shadow operates from the Kentish coast, near Deal.
Rheda Kerrich, older sister to the Baron de Winter, kept her brother’s barony out of debt by leading the village in that time-honored English coastal business, smuggling. She also does it to keep the women and children in the village fed and clothed. Too many men are dead, fled, or deported.
So Rufus is looking for a smuggler to clear his family name. He operates as a government agent. Rheda is a smuggler, needing to avoid government agents at all costs.
Except that she is also part of the local gentry. Of course they meet. And in the worst possible circumstance from Rheda’s perspective. Rufus finds her on the road, dressed as a gypsy, trapped behind a contraband barrel of brandy.
He wants to seduce her in hopes of getting information about “Dark Shadow”. She hopes to tease him in return for escape from the damnable barrel, which she desperately needs to get down to the village. Selling the contents of that barrel will feed a village family over the winter.
The other thing Rheda needs desperately is to keep Rufus from finding out her true identity as a member of the local gentry. Or her even more secret identity.
The best thing about this book were the “cat and mouse” games that Rufus and Rheda play with each other.
There’s no question that they want each other from the minute they meet. There’s also no question that they have plans to use each other. Rufus wants information, Rheda wants Rufus’ stallion Caesar to cover her mares almost as much as she wants his master. Occasionally more.
But the biggest secrets, in a story where nearly every player has a secret, is that they are falling for each other. This is a secret they keep from themselves, because they both have darn good reasons to not get emotionally involved with anyone, but especially with each other.
And in the middle of this stew, there is still one scandal left. There really is a French spy. And everyone has been totally wrong about who it is.
I give Invitation to Scandal 4 stars.
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