While on a quest to procure the missing pieces to her late-husband's art collections, which will ensure she receives her inheritance left to her from his death, Lady Olivia Rathbourne must now turn to the one man she trusted with her heart 10 years ago and who failed her when she needed him most.
Sterling Harrington, the Earl of Wyldewood, fell hard for the joyful 18 year old Olivia when he was only 20. Now, a decade later, a deception which tore the two apart has been revealed and Lady Olivia is in danger once again. She needs his help not only to stay alive but to gain her financial independence and freedom; and Sterling will NOT fail her again.
And then Olivia's secret list of desires comes into play, and a journey for treasure turns into a journey back to love.
Read an excerpt: here
Respected (or at least tolerated) member of The London Antiques Society, it was the consensus that Lord Rathbourne, in spite of his impressive art collections, was a man of questionable character. It really didn't come as much of a shock when his lordship was found murdered, in the garden, with his neck slit. He was a man of many possessions and a possessiveness towards said possessions (try saying that 3x fast). You could ask his wife, Lady Olivia Rathbourne, exactly how far he went to securing his interests. Forced to marry Lord Rathbourne and not the love of her life was just the start of Olivia's 10 year estrangement from the world (and from happiness). Finally, her husband is dead and she is free, but a stipulation in her husband's will which states that in order to receive her full inheritance as his widow, she must complete 3 of his unfinished art collections, which will likely see her sequestered in their oppressive home for the rest of her life.
But Olivia has been through far too much at the hands of her husband, and waited far to long to start crossing items off her secret list of desires, to let Lord Rathbourne continue to control her from the grave. She picks up the gauntlet he has set out for her, but with little money and limited resources to accomplish her goals, she finds she must seek out the help of the man who failed to save her from marrying Lord Rathbourne in the first place( and whom she spent the last 10 years trying to forget she loved).
Sterling Harrington was an Earl. He had two brothers who were adventures, but his responsibilities left little room for adventures. Considered stuffy, stodgy, and incredibly dull,. Sterling has tried to forget the lighter times in his life. 10 years ago he met and fell in love with Olivia, but one day, Olivia's father came acalling; informing the Earl that Olivia would be marrying Lord Rathbourne and that she had no desire to see him ever again. Heart broken and dejected, he ignored the 3 letters Olivia sent him in the beginning (which he thought were softer-worded apologies) and married, lost his wife and moved on with his life.
A decade later, Olivia's father calls on him again, with little time left in his life and a multitude of sins to try and atone for. He informs Sterling that he forced Olivia to marry Lord Rathbourne and that she sent the Earl those letters, begging him to save her from the match but that they went unanswered. He then informs Sterling that he believes the same persons who killed Lord Rathbourne could possibly come back and do harm to Olivia, and that he wants Sterling to protect her. Reluctant at first, Sterling insinuates himself back into Olivia's life with a mission to keep her safe as he should have done 10 years ago.
Olivia isn't exactly okay with Sterling's reappearance in her life, but his insistence on helping her will begin to become more warmly receipted when she finds out about her husband's stipulation in his will. Sterling's presences will also make crossing off the bedding of him off her list.
Their quest takes them to Egypt with scary Egyptian snakes, and then to Venice, where a Counte and his Contessa will be of a similar mind to court the favor of our Hero and Heroine. By happenstance, procuring the first two items for the collection is relatively easy; it's the resolving of issues from the past and making item #1 on Olivia's secret list of desires a task worth a lifetime, which will prove difficult.
Rating: 3 1/2 Red Roses
My Favorite Part of the Book: Is when Olivia is after the second item in Venice. She meets the flirtatious Counte de Sarafini, whom is the owner of the painting she needs to complete the second collection. He invites her to luncheon with the unexpressed intention of luring her to his bed. She goes to the luncheon alone, flirting outrageously with the Counte as well, but offers no more than a trade of paintings instead of a trade of bed-favors for the required paintings. The scene is funny because the Contessa has invited Sterling to a private luncheon too and he goes so he can negotiate for the painting, as well. Olivia is caught in a compromising position, and the dynamics of these scenes are priceless!Overall, this book was an enjoyable read. Having read the previous novel, 'The Virgin's Secret', I had a little bit of knowledge on the Sterling-Olivia debacle. While I felt the 'adventure' theme over-whelmed the romance a bit, it was interesting to a degree and played it's role. I felt the characters were developing steadily, both of mind and relationship, but I did feel the revelations weren't developed as well as they could have and ran around in circles a bit. There was longing, coated in betrayal that was real interesting to read and it teased the reader throughout the novel. Give it a read!
*Try the previous novel in the Harrington Brother's series, 'The Virgin's Secret'. My Review can be found: here