*** Geoffrey Wentworth, the Earl of Stratford, is a war hero focused on affairs of king and country rather than affairs of the heart. Nevertheless, his mother is playing matchmaker, and has invited potential brides to visit the family estate. Geoffrey resigns himself to playing host to a gaggle of husband hunters more interested in his title than in him — until he unexpectedly meets one notable and intriguing exception.
Miss Liliana Claremont has no interest in being an earl’s wife, least of all Wentworth’s — the son of the man she believes murdered her father. Liliana is determined to find evidence of the crime, but her behavior rouses the earl’s suspicions as well as her own undeniable attraction to a man she thought was her enemy.
As Geoffrey and Liliana explore their growing passion for each other, the truth behind their fathers’ enmity threatens to destroy their newfound love… ***
All Liliana really wants is to be able to join the Royal Society and present her Chemistry ideas to them. However, even though she has good ideas of her own, plus was the daughter of a chemist, she is a woman, and that trumps everything else, forbidding her entrance. All that gets pushed to the side when, as she comes home one night, happens on an intruder in the library… and the secret door she discovers in the library as she cleans up after him. Behind the door were various letters and papers of her now deceased father. Some of little consequence, but one makes her realize he wasn’t killed by footpads, but because of someone’s betrayal. With the seal on that letter to help guide her to someone who could give her answers (or the guilty party), she sets off to investigate.
As it just so happens, her cousin gets an invitation to a house party at Somerton Park; one of which, thanks to the Earl’s mother, is meant to show the Earl suitable potential wives to finally get him to settle down and give the title an heir. Liliana begs to join the party so she can look around for clues, given that’s where her investigations has led to. Her Aunt is so happy that she finally is considering marriage, and Liliana will go through the motions to have people believe that, but her cousin knows her real mission and will help her whichever way she can.
Geoffrey wasn’t looking for the responsibilities of being an Earl, but his older brother died, making him the heir. Now that he is, all cares about is getting support for his Poor Unemployment Act – a bill to help ex-soldiers find jobs – but his mother has other plans. In fact, some of the eligible women and their families that his mother invite are rather important ones in Parliament, men whose support he needs for his bill. Given he is outmaneuvered, he remains for the house party. But soon enough, one particular guest is on his mind, and it sure isn’t one that his mother had in mind.
He finds himself more and more attracted to Liliana – she is witty, has a brain, isn’t moldable or have a title. As he gets to know her, he wants more of her, having secret meetings when or wherever they can, though neither of them are interested in marriage. Soon enough, he finds himself changing his mind about that, and wants to convince her they would be a fine match. As Liliana gets to know him, she discovers he is not the traitor she considered he could have been, but a good man – wanting to help others, and someone who takes her and her scientific ideas seriously. However, she knows she must tell him the real reason she came to his home really, really soon…
Someone who is a student of chemistry that is a heroine… boy, do I love that! And she uses her science knowledge to get out of trouble, to help people with their sicknesses, or even to prove a point. She is a superb match to Geoffrey, with a great, well, chemistry together. The mystery about what happened to their fathers had suspense, but didn’t overpower the romance part of the story. It’s just an overall sweet and hot romance with a bit of mystery thrown in. This is a fine first book by a new author, who happens to be a chemist herself.
Speaking of mysteries, I do wonder what the mystery of the next book’s hero… after all, we just didn’t see enough of him in this one!