Harlequin HQN, Jan 25 2011, $7.99
In 1837 the scandal in Somerset rocks the Ton in London and elsewhere as the adult children of the dying duke of Parford turn out to be illegitimate. Instead of an offspring, a distant cousin formerly Mr. Ash Turner found the proof that he now Lord Ash Turner is the legitimate heir. His younger brother Mark begs Ash not to do what he has wrought to the Duke’s children Richard, Edmund and Anna Margaret Dalyrmple who have become social pariahs, but they also file a countersuit asking parliament to pass a bill making them the legitimate heirs.
Parford’s shunned daughter Anna Margaret goes undercover to spy on the upstart Ash by pretending to be the dying Duke’s Nurse Miss Margaret Lowell. Her brothers want their sister to find proof to support their request for a royal proclamation of legitimacy. Ash and Margaret are attracted to one another from their first meeting. This tears her heart asunder as she falls in love with the kind enemy but wants to remain loyal to her brutish siblings.
This is an engaging early Victorian romance starring an obstinate lead male who vows vengeance against the Dalyrmple brothers for what they did to his siblings. However, Margaret’s emotional predicament makes the historical entertaining as she brings intensity to the storyline. Her brothers are rude and shallow, while Ash’s relationships with his family except somewhat with Mark are ignored for the most part. The Dalyrmple efforts to persuade Parliament to act on their behalf are a refreshing concept though if enacted is an abuse of power. Sub-genre readers will enjoy this intriguing nineteenth century tale.