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His Sinful Secret: Notorious Bachelors Kindle Edition
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I've been re-reading this author's work and this was the first book of hers that I ever read. It's still the best and is still in my favourites folder. Every now and then when I'm disillusioned with current offerings, I re-read this one. The H is secretly a spy and still doing work for the crown. Unfortunately, his elder brother has died, which makes him the heir to a dukedom. The h was betrothed to marry his brother and when the brother died, the H agrees to marry the h in his place. I loved the h because she's a lovely, honourable character and I love the way she loves the H. The H slowly comes around to caring about her, even when he was determined not to. I didn't love the secondary love story about a Spanish widow, who once had an affair with the H and still has a thing for him and keeps getting involved with both the H and h. Her love interest is an interesting character, who works together with all of them for the crown. His patience with his Spanish lady is amazing. Great book. Please write more stories Ms Wildes!
Michael Hepburn, the Marquess of Longhaven comes into his title quite unexpectedly, his brother dies and he finds his life altered completely. Michael works for the Foreign Office, was a well respected soldier and is quite an adept spy. He does his duty though and assumes the title and all the trappings with it to include fulfilling the betrothal contract his brother had with Julianne Sutton.
Julianne also is willing to please her family and goes through with the marriage to Michael. He is not a complete stranger but he is reserved, and incredibly private. She is aware that this marriage will take a lot of effort on her part; she knows Michael is holding back large chunks of his life (she is not aware initially that he works for the crown).
Michael is involved in a mission which is deadly, attempts have been made on his life and he is fairly certain the culprit is a former French spy that slipped past him earlier. Assisting him on this endeavor is a beautiful woman from his past, Antonia, who still has strong feelings for Michael. She is involved with a fellow British spy but feels her heart belongs to the Marquess. The scenes with Michael and Antonia are bittersweet. It would be easy to dislike this woman but Ms Wildes has given this character many admirable qualities and her past is clearly defined. The reader understands her motives clearly.
Even better are the scenes with Michael and Julianne. He really does attempt to keep an emotional distance from his wife but not a physical one. He and Julianne have a sensual and affectionate relationship. This is where both parties are honest with each other and they never have conversations filled with hateful words. Julianne is very perceptive and this startles Michael, he did not expect to find her so intuitive and analytical. Julianne puts pieces together fairly well and she knows that she wants a marriage that is deeper than a physical relationship. Michael's whole concept of marriage, duty, and selflessness is being reconstructed thanks to Julianne's thoughtful nature.
In addition to the sweet romance flowing between the lead couple, Antonia and her fellow spy are trying to find their own future. These scenes are very passionate and reveal Antonia's vulnerabilities. Finally this story has some unexpected twists and I have to say I was quite surprised several times in this novel. This is a fine addition to the notorious bachelor series.