Out of the war and into another, Captain Lord Anthony Hargreaves finds the politics of romance to be as uninviting a battle as the one that nearly cost him his life in Badajoz, Spain.
Wounded both mentally and physically from the Peninsular War in 1812, Anthony returns home to find that his older brother has died, placing Anthony next in line to inherit the estate. But he’s not ready for such responsibilities. And when Anthony’s dying father pleads with him to marry and produce an heir to preserve the family title, it nearly sends Anthony over the edge; nevertheless he dutifully faces a long line of hopeful young ladies who await him. No one grabs his attention, though, like Amelia Clarke, his mother’s stunning companion, who is off-limits for the earl. But when Anthony unwittingly puts Amelia in a compromising situation, he dedicates himself to protecting her reputation.
But the horrors Anthony faced while away from home have left him feeling broken and tormented. And Anthony finds himself drawn to Miss Clarke, the only one who can chase away his demons, but he must overcome the hostility of a society driven by class, a jealous duke bent on revenge, and himself—for could Amelia ever really love a haunted man?
I loved this book! I loved to see how two amazing characters slowly fall for each other while both trying to protect the other from making the wrong decision, both caring enough to comsider the other's needs first....
But, well, that's not the only part that I loved. The book was amazingly well written and had complex, multi-layered characters that got me from the first "meeting". It's not just the hero and the heroine but each and everyone of the characters is authentic and portrayed in a way that let's them come to life. I really enjoyed meeting Lord Anthony's former personal servant/best friend Lucas Jennings for example and even though Lord Anthony's father made me furious more than once with his ignorance and ...well.... he was a great character and in the end I started to like him as well. His mother is sweet and caring and ...oh, there are so many people that I grew to love when I read the book!
The story itself was interesting, well plotted and had some twists and turns that kept me on my toes. Not a book to read in public, actually, if you don't want people to look at you strangely when you wring your hands or gasp in shock or whatever.
When Lord Anthony comes back from the Peninsula, he is suffering badly and least of his worries are the remnants of the bullet wound that almost took his life at Badajoz. His soul is wounded even worse and he is suffering from PTSD. Lucas cares for him, trying to protect him and trying to prevent others from learning about Anthony's problems but it is Amelia, his mother's compagnon Miss Clarke, who makes him feel better and to whom he opens himself. Of course, despite his father's insistence that he should marry posthaste, Miss Clarke could never become his wife, could she? And how could anyone foresee to what lengths some people would go to exact revenge for some obscure offense?
Amazing characters, great writing and a wonderful and powerful story that I've already reread more than once - I can defintely recommend this book!