Type: Historical Romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
My Copy: Sent
Maximillian Burke has always prided himself on being the man every mother would want her daughter to marry. But after his scoundrel of a brother makes off with Max’s bride, Max discovers it’s more satisfying to be a rogue than the perfect gentleman. Forced to flee London after a duel gone wrong, he seeks refuge at Cadgwyck Manor on the lonely coast of Cornwall, a place as wild and savage as his current temper. The tumbledown manor comes complete with its own ghost, but oddly enough, it’s not the White Lady of Cadgwyck who haunts Max’s heated dreams—but his no-nonsense housekeeper.
The last thing housekeeper Anne Spencer needs is a new master, especially one as brooding and gorgeous as the Earl of Dravenwood. Even as she schemes to be rid of her new employer, she finds herself irresistibly drawn into his strong, muscular arms. When Max vows to solve the mystery of Cadgwyck’s ghost, he doesn’t realize it will put both of their hearts at risk and tempt them to surrender to a pleasure as delicious as it is dangerous.
Maximillian Burke is having a rough time; he has always been the dependable one choosing each step carefully so he does not stumble. His brother Ashton was the wild one, getting into trouble and not caring what others thought. Yet now Ash is settled down in the ancestral home of Dryden Hall with his wife Clarinda and lovely daughter, Charlotte. Ash is enjoying the domestic bliss that Max should have been enjoying with the wife he should have. It was the scandal that all of London still talked about, how Ash had stolen Clarinda from Max at the altar.
Since the marriage and scandal, Max has resigned his position from the East India Company and is currently making everyone nervous around London. So when the opportunity came for him to check out a property that his father had purchased on the southwest coast of England everyone thought it would be a great idea.
Cadgwyck Manor was a rundown home that was being taken care of by a motley crew of servants, Anne Spencer or Mrs. Spencer is the housekeeper, Dickon the twelve year old footman, Nana the cook who only knitted, Pippa a sixteen year old maid and the butler Hodges who always seemed confused. They barely ran the place however they did successfully managed to get rid of several previous masters who had come to live there. When they found out that another new master was coming to visit they hoped they would be able to send him on his way.
The villagers know about Cadgwyck Manor, they have heard the stories and knew about the last masters who turned and ran because of the haunting and even one that had thrown himself from the window. Anne and the crew have let the stories of The White Lady of the manor grow so everyone stayed away. So when Max ended up at the village after dark, he could not get anyone to take him any farther, he had to use a large amount of money to coax a young boy to drive him out to the property, Max had hoped they could make it before the storm hit, however he was knocking at the door drenched to the bone.
Most of the servants were there to greet Max and when he notices the state of disrepair of the house he is not surprised at the small amount of people who work there. As Anne shows him his room he notices the only portrait left in the house, a portrait of a woman who is beautiful and fascinating. Anne tells Max that he is not the first to be mesmerized by the portrait; many of the previous masters would stand in the room and stare at the woman named Angelica.
A decade ago the Cadgwyck family was the royalty of the village, the mother died when the daughter, Angelica was born and her father and brother doted on her while she was growing up. On her eighteenth birthday her father commissioned a portrait to be presented at her party. While she was sitting for her portrait, she fell in love with the artist and on the night of her party they were found in a compromising position by her father and brother, there was a fight and her brother shot and killed the artist. Her brother was arrested and sent off to Australia and her father went mad, Angelica was so distraught she threw herself off the cliff. The manor was sold for debt, the family gone.
The current caretakers of the household want Max gone as soon as possible, they are hoping the nightly haunting from Angelica, the bland food barely edible they serve him and the run down state of the house make him want to run back to his pampered life in London. However he seems to be made of stauncher stuff and brushes off most of the strange occurrences. And for the first time since Ash married Clarinda, he begins to feel alive again. He even comes to terms with his brother when the family visits before heading to far off lands.
Several accidents threaten Anne, Max and the others which bring out truths that have been hidden for years. Anne and Max also come to terms with their past realizing they are both feeling guilty about what has happened in their lives and that forgiveness is a marvelous thing.
I really liked this book. I liked Anne and although Max was very stiff in the first book he was much more human and liable here. The story had mystery and intrigue along with many funny instances. I loved how Anne would put the cobwebs back up to make the house worse than it was, although it was pretty bad. There was a part in the end that was surprising and a little rushed. I would have like to have more substance to the story about her brother and what happened to him. I read the first book and it does have a lot of the back story of why Max is the way he is, thinking he must rescue those he feels responsible for yet he is so angry and depressed after the marriage, yet the author explains enough so you are not lost.
I give The Temptation of Your Touch by Teresa Medeiros 4 stars!