by Kay Bolton, guest reviewer
Charlie Morwellan, Eighth Earl of Meredith recognized the need to marry, in particular the necessity to produce an Heir or more to ensure that the Earldom went on.
So then, it would be as it had to be, marriage to a suitable girl of impeccable family, but on his terms – he was well aware that previous Earls’ Meredith had married for love, and just look where that had got them – his own father’s love had the Earldom on its knees fighting to survive – he would not, could not let that happen.
Thus he decided to offer for the hand of Miss Sarah Conningham, Daughter of Lord and Lady Conningham, who was just such a suitable match. The fact that they had known all each other all of there lives just sweetened the pill a little for him.
What he was not aware of, was that Sarah had already turned down many offers for her hand because she could not entertain a sensible, tame and conventional marriage, or the loss of her inherited and beloved Orphanage. For her marriage had to contain love, passion and romance. Although, the sight and nearness of Charlie proved strangely disturbing and seemed to call to her on far more sensual level than the innocent maid she was.
The two strike a bargain whereby there is a two week period to get to know each other better, and if after that Sarah is happy to proceed, they would marry within a week of her decision.
After a beautiful wedding day ~ and even more amorous night (which confirmed in his own mind that he loved his wife) Charlie left the marital bed chamber determined to wholly confine his feelings for his Countess firmly to that room, and shut her out of his day to day life.
His attitude left her feeling betrayed, and with the distinct impression that their marriage was akin to a hollow shell, and to make matters something precious to her goes missing.
I have to say that at this point I could gladly have taken Charlie and shaken sense into him.
Sarah received various excessive offers to purchase the Orphanage, which had been given over to her by Charlie as her dower property. She doesn’t accept them, but because of her difficulties with her spouse she doesn’t tell him about them either. Neither does she tell him of the other problems at the Orphanage that occur once the offers are declined.
Unfortunately, the anonymous would be purchaser ups the pressure, and Sarah is badly injured and the Orphanage subsequently set on fire.
She gets information on her missing diary, and sets off to retrieve it, not sensing the danger she might be in. The end of the book sees the end of the mastermind behind the plot to purchase the Orphanage and the revelation of just how much Charlie loves his wife.
All in all, another sparkling read from Stephanie Laurens, with the Cynster connection and various other characters running through it. I find the most appealing part of her works is that they can be read as an entire body, or independently with various characters and relationships popping hither and yon throughout. There is also just about the right content of smut throughout.
It was thoroughly enjoyed.
Rating: 4 Stars
Buy: The Taste of Innocence (Cynster Novels)
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