Beatrice Sinclair survived the cholera epidemic that killed her entire family and after a year of base survival she realizes she is in desperate need of a job if she does not want to starve. She turns to Castle Crannoch to ask for help from the Duke of Brechin and meets Devlen Gordon. Devlen is the cousin of the very young Duke and his father is Brechin's guardian who hires Beatrice to be governess to young Robert. She has no experience but she is desperate so she agrees to take on the rude and mannerless child but she hopes that she does not have to spend more time with Devlen, whose physical attractions unnerve her. Devlen hopes that Beatrice can help bring his cousin up the snuff and help protect him from the random incidents that have been happening. He fears that his father, Cameron, the Duke's guardian, is trying to get rid of Robert so that he can inherit the Dukedom as he does not seem concerned at the accidents.
Devlen tries to stay away from Beatrice as her forthright manner, inability to be cowed by titles, and her take charge attitude, attract him but he knows that he cannot touch her. However, after only a short time away he finds himself coming back only to discover that the accidents that could claim Robert's life have continued. He takes Beatrice and Robert and whisks them off to Edinburgh where he wants to keep them safe and where he plan to get much closer to Beatrice. She is nervous but does not see anything wrong with finally acting on her attraction for Devlen and soon the two of them are having a very hard time keeping their hands off each other. She fears that he is far out of his league and while he had never imagined taking a woman as his wife, the more he gets to know her the more he knows that is the only way he can have her in his life. But with someone out to get Robert, there is much that needs to be resolved before the two of them can have their happily ever after.
I would really categorize this as a somewhat gothic novel in plot and writing style as well as the interactions between all the characters and their behaviors. I would not necessarily say the book is a downer but it is very calm and rather cloaked in mystery throughout. The characters are rarely shown really enjoying themselves or joking around or laughing and everything is incredibly serious. Luckily I felt it worked fairly well in this story as Beatrice really was just a very well written and very serious, no nonsense, character. Her life circumstances were horrific and it was realistic that she grieved but had to pick herself up and make her own way in life. I was a little thrown by her ability to handle such an incredibly rude child, especially since she had absolutely no experience with children. As a teacher I can tell you that it is not so easy to just walk in and earn a child's trust and management skills don't just develop overnight.
Devlen was not as complex as Beatrice and I felt like some more time could have been spent getting to really know about him. He wasn't tortured and his dislike for marriage was not based on anything and rather easily blew away when he met the right woman; no crazy fighting tooth and nail to not admit he was in love. I also felt like there should have been a ton more time spent with just the two of them together getting to know each other. The sex was rather sporadic but it was very well written and certainly interesting. Robert was great as the spoiled child and Cameron was incredibly intriguing and I especially liked the little bits of the story that were told from the point of view of Cameron's neglected wife, Rowena. The mystery of what was happening to Robert was a nice little back ground plot that was not at all obvious and wasn't revealed until the very end.
Rating: A really great heroine who could not quite manage to entirely carry an entire story. Good writing with an interesting style, but there were definite issues with the romance.