Neither wealth nor beauty will help Lady Francesca Gordon win custody of her young niece Georgina, saving the girl from a cruel stepmother; she needs London’s top solicitor for that. But when Edward de Lacey, son of the powerful Duke of Durham, hires away the one man who can do the job, Francesca decides Edward himself must champion her case . . . if only she can melt the dashing lord’s stony heart.
Edward has reason to be guarded, though. London’s tabloids have just exposed a secret that could ruin his entire family. When Francesca offers a unique chance to undo the damage, Edward is forced to agree to a partnership . . . and now, each moment together feeds the flames of his scandalous longing for the passionate widow. But when Georgina disappears, fate will test them both . . . and leave their love hanging in the balance.
REVIEW: I am not a long time Caroline Linden fan. I discovered her books only last year (A Rake’s Guide to Seduction; What a Rogue Desires; What a Gentleman Wants; What a Woman Needs) when I ordered all four of these through Amazon. I was very impressed by her style of writing, but what I loved most were the heroines she writes about. Every one of them is strong, independent and very three dimensionally drawn female, so I wasn’t surprised by Lady Francesca Gordon.
The story opens with Duke of Durham on his death-bed awaiting his heir Charles, Lord Gresham to arrive so he could ask his forgiveness. His other two sons, Edward de Lacey, the spare and Captain Gerard de Lacey, the hero, were with him to offer him comfort and forgiveness, neither knowing for what, as he breathed his last.
Soon, Ned and Gerard found out from their father’s solicitor, that some sixty years ago the Duke had been married than parted ways with the woman shortly after, but not bothering to get a divorce, or at least find out if the woman lived or died before he married their mother in April of 1774. Needles to say, all three brothers would need to pull their resources to keep this secret buried while trying to find out the truth. They could not afford a scandal and rumor. Edward, the cool, calm and collected one, would immediately find a worthy Lawyer, if and when they needed one. Gerard, being a man of action and not much patience, would head out in search of a blackmailer who’d been sending their old man letters with demands. As for Charlie, they’ve all come to the conclusion that he should just stay put and do what he does best: debauch!
I have to tell you, my heart went out to Edward. Here’s a man who did everything that has ever been expected of him, and loved doing it. Edward reminded me so much of that son from the Bible in the story of a ‘Prodigal Son’. You know, the one that did all the work and never was praised for it, while the son who’d squandered everything was welcomed with open arms.
And now I get to tell you about our heroine and what a woman she turns out to be! She’s an independent widow and a woman that knows her mind. There is nothing in this woman that’s pretentious. She wears her emotions and her heart on her sleeve and for that and many other passions that bubble through in her demeanor, she freely admits is the Italian in her to be blamed on.
Francesca needs a good Lawyer. This man will help her fight a custody battle against a widow of her late brother-in-law, who took her niece and disappeared. In one meeting, her hopes are raised and dashed by Wittiers, a solicitor extraordinaire, who almost accepts her case, but is called away by none other than Edward de Lacey.
These two, Francesca and Edward, were polar opposites. She is impulsive and loud; passionate and quick-witted; he is calm, calculating and disciplined. When these two meet, the sparks fly and as they come to terms with each other, we are treated to a slow and sensual love story that is so real, so full of emotion. Their first sexual encounter left me with butterflies in my tummy! It was scorching my computer screen!
I really loved Francesca! You got to love a woman that knows who and what she is and when she sees something she wants, she goes for it. I loved the part in which our hero realizes the difference between what he ‘wants’ and what he ‘needs’. That part touched me deeply as I remembered my husband telling me once that I was everything he never wanted. Divorced woman of two teenagers AND twelve years older than him! But I was everything he needed…
Ms. Linden gave us a delightful first book in this series that features three-dimensional characters with a strong, fast paced and unique plot and a very interesting subplot about child custody. This is a FIVE stars, A+ and just all-around awesome introduction to this series. I am looking forward to Charlie’s story as much as Gerard’s. This is a keeper and a MUST READ!
*I received this book from the publisher via netgalley.com