This is the sequel to Dark Angel, which was published in the same book as this (thus the same cover) and features Jennifer's cousin, Samantha Newman, who is still recovering from Lord Kersey's betrayal. While visiting Jenny and Gabriel, who now have 2 kids, but at 24 she has come to appreciate peace and quiet so she goes off on her own. She meets Hartley Wade, a man she believes to be the gardener for the Marquess of Carew, and they have quite the conversation about nature and enjoy some peaceful quiet. But Hartley is really the actual Marquess, but he has lived mainly in seclusion because of his limp and his disfigured hand. The two meet four times, enjoying each other's company and the peace and security they feel with the other, before she is called back to London. Hartley only lasts a few days before giving in and heading off to London to find her and see if anything can be made of their relationship. Meanwhile Samantha is enjoying being back in London, but can't help but feel that something is missing.
When he sees her on the arm of his cruel cousin Lionel, he takes her outside where once again they feel secure in each other's friendship. Sam is worried that the hatred she has been feeling for Lionel all this time is only a step away from love and that if she does not move on soon she will end up falling in love with him again. The next day he arrives at her house and asks her to marry him. She agrees before knowing who he really is, but for her it is most important that he makes her feel safe and secure. While the marriage starts off really well, however while Hartley has no problem letting his wife know that he is madly in love with her, she is scared to give in to love or passion every again. It is not long before Hartley discovers that she has a past with his cousin and he realizes that he does not know if he can trust his new bride. It is then that Samantha discovers she has been hiding for nothing and she is just willing to take a chance she can find love and not have to worry about losing the man who loves her.
Here, Balogh goes back to the calming, rather unexciting, bent of most of her other novels as the book rather trudges along, although not necessarily in an unpleasant manner. I rather like the way that many Balogh novels are just warm and secure without having big passionate scenes between the characters. The book still maintains a very heavy emotional bent as each of them spends quite a bit of time musing about their feelings for the other and just how calm the other person makes them. I know that in most romances Samantha would have ended up with Lionel because he was the big, strong, and handsome man she was attracted to against her better judgement, instead of the calming, incredibly sweet, and handicapped Hartley. Many of Balogh's novels feature characters who are not completely perfect, and while many romances feature characters who don't believe they are perfect, most of them really are, at least in the eyes of their future spouse.
I became rather frustrated with Samantha for kind of falling back under Lionel's spell even though she knows how awful he is. She was determined to stay away from him and then failed miserably at it. I was also severely confused about her having sworn off love because of one, admittedly stupid but easily gotten over, mistake she made when she was only 18. Lots of protagonists in romances have bad experiences with lover, but after reading Dark Angel I can't help but feeling like her's was just ridiculous. I also wish that Hartley had just come out and told her as soon as he realized that Lionel was being an ass, the truth about his accident. However I did overall really enjoy Hartley and his actions about Samantha and how he so quickly fell in love and how he was able to admit he had made a mistake. Lionel was still the same person he had been years ago and I admit it would have been more interesting if he genuinely had change and Samantha really had to choose between two men.
Rating: I enjoyed this book, it was nothing exciting or entirely new but Balogh does another find job on an emotional story.