Summary: When Gervase Frant returns to England to become the new Earl of Stanyon he finds his welcome home to be not so welcoming. Turns out his stepmother and half-brother would have been happier had he died in battle!
As he faces his stepmother’s resentment and his brother’s disdainful jealousy, a chilling midnight presences in his room disturbs his sleep followed closely by several possibly fatal accidents at every turn. Somebody is clearly trying to finish the job that Napoleon failed to do.
The obvious suspect is Martin, his half-brother. With Gervase dead, Martin would be free and clear to assume the title he’s sure is rightly his. But could it really be Martin? He seems so wet behind the ears. Of course it could be his stepmother, Lady St. Erth, but she would more likely encourage another to do it than get her hands dirty herself.
Until Gervase can figure it out he’s lucky to have his cousin and steward Theo watching his back along with his best friend and his stepmother’s young guest, Drusilla.
Review (with spoilers): The romance between Drusilla and Gervase was placed on a major back burner and was complicated in the beginning with Marianne who could have easily been his romance interest (it’s on the back cover even). Gervase winds up eschewing Marianne because she’s too innocent---if blinded to what “flirting” could do to increase a man’s assurance of her interest. Her heart isn’t likely to be touched by him and he yields the floor to other suitors like Martin.
Drusilla comes to Gervase’s attention when she rescues him from injury and with her ever practical air. Too be honest, Drusilla’s admiration is expected by the reader because after all Gervase is titled, wealthy, dresses fashionably (read dandy) and always pleasant tempered, but her admiration is told instead of shown by Heyer so the whole thing comes across flat, which is too bad because the story is pretty good other than that.
I enjoyed the story more for figuring out who wanted Gervase dead. The villain came as a surprise... well okay, I suspected said villain once but couldn’t come up with motive so dismissed rather quickly. That just means I have to brush up on my Regency some more!