‘His Scandalous Kiss’ by Sophie Barnes

hsk sbSTORY: Thorncliff Manor is the perfect setting for a masquerade ball… where the heart’s secret desires are about to be uncovered in this scintillating Regency romance from Sophie Barnes…

Richard Heartly has exiled himself from society since the war, plotting his revenge for a terrible betrayal. A masked ball at Thorncliff Manor is intended to be a brief diversion. Instead, he encounters a fascinating young woman as entranced by the music as he is. He can’t reveal his identity to Lady Mary. But her siren song keeps drawing him back, and their clandestine meetings could be hazardous to his plan—and to her virtue.

Avoiding an unwanted marriage was easy when Lady Mary was ignored by the ton. Thanks to her dazzling appearance at the masquerade, she’s a wallflower no longer. Eligible suitors abound, yet the only man she wants is the brooding, seductive companion who keeps his face hidden. A man who tempts her to disclose her own shocking secret, one that could divide them forever.

REVIEW: Thorncliff Manor – 1820

Richard Heartly is staying at Thorncliff Manor, as a guest of Lady Duncaster. She was also a friend of his late grandmother. Tonight, there is a masked ball and Richard is using the name Signor Antonio because he does not want his family to know he is attending the ball. Richard has lived a solitary life for the last 5 years and is taking it slow with returning. However, Lady Duncaster is helping to ease his reentry to society which will be an event that will draw much attention. When Richard was fighting in the war, he was burned on his face, leaving him scarred. Thus, he is not quite ready to show himself.

At the ball, a beautiful masked lady gets Richard’s attention and he tries to find the courage to ask her to dance. Later, he finds her listening to music in the garden. As they talk, the lady admits that she prefers her own company, peace, and quiet. These are the same things that Richard has been doing these past years. In addition, they both share a love of reading. In response to his request for her name, she calls herself Lady Eleanor, as she is dressed as Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Richard gives his name as Signor Antonio.

Lady Eleanor is actually Mary Bourneville and is attending the party at Thorncliff with her aunt who is pressuring her to find a husband. Mary is being pursued by Lord Rotridge, an older man and an Earl whose property’s neighbors her grandfather’s. An independent woman, Mary is irritated that the Earl thinks she should be eager to marry him, which is not the case. His constant pushiness is an irritant to her.

When Richard discovers Mary late one night out on the grounds, he is surprised and amazed at her secret which could cause a huge scandal if found out. They continue to meet at night and their friendship turns to love. When they discover a long-lost secret of Thorncliff Manor, life becomes even more exciting for them.

I really loved this story. Richard and Mary are both strong characters with pure, true love, and respect for one another. The author has created several storylines that all combine to make this a real historical romance novel. You don’t want to miss it. I learned so much as I read this book. What a treat!

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

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