Beth Banning, the youngest of the three Banning sisters, has already thrown over two suitors and when she gives her third his conge, he does not take at all well and attacks her. Neil Severin happens to be on scene as he is out to kill Beth's brother in law, Hugh the Duke of Richmond. He does not interfere as Beth fends off her attacker but when he has been dispatched he helps her get rid of the body and in the process comes to admire this very beautiful and capable young woman. He decides that best way to get to Richmond is to kidnap Beth, but before he can get to her she is kidnapped by someone else and he knows he has to rescue her. She is taken to a house of very ill repute and before he can put a plan into action she takes matters into her own hands and makes a run for it with several of the other young women who have been kidnapped and Neil finds himself with seven women on his hands.
Their escape from the brothel is harrowing and quite long winded with a dark rowboat ride and a night spent in a cave until finally Richmond's men find Neil, thinking he was the one who kidnapped Beth. Beth is horrified that the man who saved her could be killed, even if he does have a past as an assassin and helps him escape. When he explains to her the truth about his past and how he has to kill Richmond so that he can live the rest of his life as a Marquis without fear of being assassinated, she decides that the two of them should marry. No one is exactly pleased at this new turn of events but they decide to make the best of it while pretending to the ton that they did not elope. But there is still someone out there who knows the truth about Neil's past and wants him gone, and Beth is worried that Neil only married her to save his life and that he does not love her. On one dangerous night all their fears collide and everyone from the series has to embrace their love for all of their new family members.
I very much enjoyed the first two books in this series, and Robards ability to combine suspense and mystery with a very well developed romance and I especially liked the characters in all of her books. Beth did not live up to her sisters, as while she was certainly very capable and I liked that in several instances she took charge and saved herself and others, I found her assertions that she wouldn't be owned, wouldn't be married, and finally her rather awful attempts to be flirtatious and wild to stick it Neil when she did not think he loved her, quite juvenile and pitiful. Neil was better as he had quite the dark past as an assassin whose family had been beheaded in France who did not think he could ever be deserving enough of love. However, I found his willingness to leave the other women to fend for themselves in the brothel to be rather reprehensible, even if it was to illustrate how he eventually changes through the book.
The first thing that struck me about this book was how so much of it was taken up with suspense and around other people. The kidnap and escape from the brothel took up about 200 of the 350 pages and really did not allow for much in the way of romance in my opinion. While it was certainly interesting and did keep me reading as I wanted to see that everyone ended up safe it was not really to my taste in a romance. In addition the asassination and being hunted by other people also took up a large part of the story and made spending time alone together rather brief. I think it says something that my favorite part of the story was really the last 50 pages, after they had been married and were putting on a face for the ton as they participated in the commonplace rituals and balls and such. There was a nice amount of face time for the rest of the Bannings which makes sense as they are sisters.
Rating: I was looking forward to this but it felt like the two spent the entire time with an unconscious body or running from people who were hunting them which made it difficult for me to see them as a couple.