The Love Affair of an English Lord by Jillian Hunter
Chloe Boscastle was banished to the countryside by her older brother Grayson when she was caught kissing a Baron. Once there she gets caught in rainstorm and is rescued by Dominic Breckland, the Viscount Stratfield, and kisses him as well, only to have him be stabbed to death in his bed (while his mistress was present) a mere three weeks later. Unfortunately for the tiny town Dominic's ghost has been haunting the women- folk in their bedchambers at night, but Chloe is still completely shocked when Dominic appears wounded in her bedchamber late one night. Apparently Dominic was never really killed, he was stabbed and faked his own death, with the help of his friend Adrian, Lord Wolverton, to uncover the tangled conspiracies behind his death. Dominic is certain that his heir- apparent, his uncle Edgar is behind the attack on his life as he recognized his voice. Lending further credence to this belief is the fact that Edgar was present in India when Dominic's brother and Chloe's brother were killed by a supposed ambush. Dominic had been investigating the deaths and at the time he was stabbed all sources were pointing to Edgar.
So Dominic has been living in the walls of his estate while his murderous uncle has been making himself at home. The two are immediately attracted to each other and despite his wounded state Dominic has no trouble convincing Chloe of that. Chloe and Dominic begin a slow-moving affair that takes place whenever Dominic can sneak away without being seen, which is not very often. Dominic plans the big take down of his uncle, but not before a little hanky- panky with Chloe at the ball. Meanwhile Chloe's Aunt, and numerous other village ladies, have been holding meetings in an attempt to "lay" the ghost of Lord Stratfield... to rest. The big take-down is a little awkward to say the least and a tad drawn out, but I was glad that the book did not end on that odd note. Instead we get the introduction of Chloe's brothers (the ones who appear in the rest of the books in this series) and a little angsty-ness when Chloe and Dominic begin to realize the obstacles in their path. Eventually even Chloe's over-protective family is drawn to her side and everything works out wonderfully.
This was another romance novel where the protagonists just seemed to be in love without anything really developing. He shows up, he shares what happened with him and all of a sudden she's in love with him. And he falls in love with her because she's his strength and light during his time of darkness as he's hiding in the walls. It just seems to come out of nowhere as the two characters seem to know nothing about each other and spend very little actual time together. The sex was somewhat steamy and there was certainly a bit of it, or at least lead-ups to it, especially in the first half, but it all seemed alternately too rushed or too drawn out. I was very glad that we were given as much back-round information on the death of the brothers' and that it didn't become an overwhelming side-plot. As it was the conspiracy/ murder was enough, and definitely elemental to the story so it did not get too annoying.
There were a few really funny scenes, my favorite being the one where Dominic pretends to be Chloe when an ardent suitor comes to the window and he adopts a false soprano and dons a nightcap. Unfortunately this was negated by the weirdness of the scene that takes place right after they first consummated their love where a fight just seems to spring out of nowhere with very little actually having been said- and it did not flow well at all. It was disappointing because it would have been a great opportunity for some angst as she realized he couldn't stay with her, but instead just seemed to jump from point a to point z with no middle. This book was part of a series and there were times when I became a little annoyed by how much the author was throwing Grayson and Jane's happily-ever-after in our faces but I've definitely read worse attempts by an author to get people to read her other books.
Rating: It was very blah- but not even that satisfying of a blah. It was a very fast read that I was amusing and somewhat interesting, but I have no doubt that I'll remember little of it in a week.