Type: Historical Romance
Publisher: Jove- Penguin
My Copy: Sent
Reviewed by: Pam
HER PRIDE. HIS PREJUDICE. THEIR PASSION. As headstrong as she is beautiful, Lady Cassandra Vernham defied convention when she refused to marry the man who had compromised her. Now, estranged from her family, Cassandra struggles to make ends meet. A recent auction of her jewels has brought her a modicum of relief, but one of the most valuable lots was never paid for by the highest bidder: handsome, rakish Viscount Ambury. Cassandra needs that money badly, and not to buy a new hat
Ambury has only to look at Cassandra to begin imagining her in his bed… He has not settled that outstanding debt for a reason. He suspects that the expensive baubles were stolen, perhaps even by Cassandra herself. Erotic fantasies about her notwithstanding, the vixen is not to be trusted, for she has already destroyed his good friend—the man she refused to marry who later lost his life in a duel, which Ambury suspects was fought over Cassandra. But nothing is as it seems… As the seductive lord and the scandalous beauty are drawn together, the passion that flares between them will illuminate shocking secrets that will change both their lives forever…
Lady Cassandra Vernham is a troubled woman; her brother is making threats against her Aunt Sophie trying to get Cassandra to do his bidding. She wishes her friend Emma could advise her however today is Emma’s wedding day and she does not want to burden her. Her brother Gerald,
the Earl of Barrowmore is threatening to find a home for her Aunt Sophie, to take her away, he does this so Cassandra will marry a man who Gerald wants. She has tried to thwart him; however it is getting harder as he is getting more menacing. She desperately needs money to take Sophie away from her brother.
Yates Elliston, Viscount Ambury and heir to the Earl of Highburton knows mutual friends of Cassandra, he and Cassandra have known each other for several years however their conversations have usually been brief. She sold her jewelry several months ago at Fairbourne’s auction house; and Ambury had purchased the best piece, a pair of sapphire and diamond earrings, but he has yet to pay for them. Lately their communication has been in writing with her doing most of it asking when he would be willing to pay her. Ambury tells Cassandra that he will pay her for the jewelry as soon as her aunt tells him how she came to own the earrings.
Six years ago Cassandra refused to marry a man her brother favored, Barron Lakewood, he also was a friend to Ambury, Southwaite and Kendale, all influential men in London, Southwaite happens to be the man her best friend, Emma is about to marry. Lakewood later compromised Cassandra and both their reputations paid a high price. She did not care and still would not marry him. A short time later he died in a duel defending a woman, many think was Cassandra however no one has ever found out and Penhurst (the other partner in the duel) is not talking even though he will soon face a jury to decide his fate. None of the three men approve of Cassandra, mostly because they do not want her reputation tainting Emma and Southwaite’s sister Lydia.
Ambury lives a very frugal life, his father is not generous, but men have other options in the world and he turns his love and talent for solving puzzles into an occupation. He does investigating for clients that need information; they usually desire discretion so he does not worry that he will be found out. So he is using his skills to find out about the earrings his father believes are stolen. He has always known about the earrings and recognized them when he bought them as they are the ones his great-grandmother is wearing in a portrait.
Gerald is getting restless and starts to put a plan into motion, telling Cassandra to visit her mother for a few days, yet while she is away Gerald has Sophie removed from her home. Cassandra is devastated when she hears about it and when he promises to release Sophie she agrees to marry his choice. Yet Ambury has a plan and goes to Gerald to offer marriage to Cassandra, however Gerald refuses. But Ambury gets a special license anyway and goes to talk to Cassandra. She agrees to a marriage of convenience for her aunt.
Many secrets are revealed as the stories are unwound, who owns the land the Gerald seems to want and is in trust, where did Sophie get the earrings, what does Ambury’s father and mother know about it all, and what really happened that day that Cassandra was compromised by Lakewood and the reason she refused to marry him. Oh so many questions to be answered before the book ends.
This was another great story by Ms Hunter. I have enjoyed many of her books as she always writes intriguing characters that grow into relationships through trust, friendship and eventually love. The men are usually intellectual, not as alpha; the women usually are also very intelligent and want more out of life than other women of the time period. This book does have a slower start however this is typical of Ms Hunter so stay with it as it picks up and ends with a flourish when most all the secrets are revealed. The dialog is witty and clever; I really enjoyed the banter between Ambury and Cassandra as their common goals and friendship leads to trust and love. I enjoyed Ambury’s sharp intelligence and loved that he played a mean violin. I also enjoyed the secondary characters that we have met before and have a prominent role here. I am looking forward to Kendale falling hard in the next book and what of Penhurst and Lydia?
I give The Conquest of Lady Cassandra by Madeline Hunter 4 stars!