Gideon Redgrave, eldest child of the late Earl of Saltwood, refuses to be humbled by the scandal that once tore his family apart. He's built his life in London society around one rule: trust no one. So the last thing he wants is to play guardian and role model to a headstrong boy . . . or to engage in a battle of wills with the boy's spirited half sister, who is fighting Gideon for custody.
Beautiful and bold, young widow Jessica Linden proves to be a formidable and passionate adversary. But the more they lock horns, the more Gideon realizes he'd prefer to have Jessica on his side . . . and in his arms. Especially now that a new threat—sprung from his father's supposedly defunct secret society—is poised to destroy the Redgraves once and for all
Jessica Linden is running an illegal gaming hell and doing quite well. Jessica and her friend Richard plan to run it until they have enough money to one day open an Inn with their proceeds. Jessica’s father dies though and her half brother’s guardian turns out to be the Earl of Saltwood, Gideon Redgrave. She writes to him to request an audience but he ignores the request for almost a month before he shows up to her home. Jessica is prepared to offer anything – including her body - to get Gideon to agree to relinquish guardianship.
Gideon is tempted by what he sees in Jessica but doesn’t take her up on her offer. Instead he invites her to his home to see her half brother that she hasn’t seen in 5 years. When she does meet him again she finds she’s quite happy to leave his upbringing to Gideon! But Gideon isn’t willing to let Jessica get away quite that easily. When they find that they are both in some way involved in a secret society that Gideon’s grandfather started and has continued on, they work together to find out as much as they can about the past. Gideon and Jessica marry and they have great times in the bedroom, but the marriage is more for gaining info on the society and to ease Gideon’s conscience than anything else – at least that’s what Gideon’s telling himself.
When I first read about Gideon I thought to myself, “pompous ass” and almost dismissed him without getting to know him. I’ve read other Kasey Michaels books however and know that her heroes are always pretty great so I kept on. In this case it’s said that Gideon is formidable and he’s actually more of a hard ass than a pompous ass. He gets what he wants and he knows it, enjoys it, expects it. He’s amused by Jessica but extremely attracted to her as well. He knows that marrying her probably isn’t the brightest idea for the long term but he’s enthralled and he definitely wants her in his bed. Jessica is wonderful. She’s a bit brash and in your face and not afraid to tell him what she thinks and frankly something Gideon’s not had in his life as he’s been an Earl since he was 9. The pair play off each other so well and I loved reading their conversations.
The romance, though consistently running throughout the story, really took a back seat in this book, at least imho. The story of the society, who was in it, what it had done and all the other small details that were coming to light really took up the majority of the story. While I found the mystery interesting I do wish that the romance and mystery would have been better balanced. Unfortunately we really get no answers in this book as the next brother will take the reins and continue on in the next book in the series. I was definitely disappointed that we didn’t get closer to getting the mystery solved in this book.
The other characters in the book were interesting for the most part. Gideon’s brothers Val and Max each played a small role as did his sister, Kate. They were all great characters and I very much want to read more about them. The other person who played prominently in this story was Gideon’s grandmother, Trixie. I think I was supposed to like her from the get go but honestly when she started talking I kind of glazed over and had to force myself to go back and read those parts as I was sure they were crucial to the story. Crucial yes, but interesting, not to me. As the book went on though I started to like her a bit better and was actually laughing at some of her scenes.
In the end I liked the book. It wasn’t my favorite book of Michaels but the story has me interested enough that I will most definitely be reading the next book in the series.