The widowed Lady Isabella Willouhby has harbored a secret love for Lord Marcus Stewart, Baron of Roth, for years, but she married sensibly instead. Her husband was ill for years before dying and she has spent the intervening years being prim and proper and she has just decided that it is time for hr to take some risks. She enlists the help of some friends, who shockingly happen to be married to Marcus's foreign office pals, to get her in to some very risque parties where other men flirt with her. It is there that Marcus's friends begin to confront him with the fact that he is insanely jealous of any men who happens to glance her way, despite his protestations to the contrary. Marcus knows he cannot marry because the men in his family have died young and some headaches have led him to believe he will eventually be going blind.
There are also bad men, who appear out of nowhere and with no explanation, are following Marcus and kidnapping and killing off the men who work for him. When these men who are after Marcus turns their eyes to Isabella he decides that the best solution would be to whisk her off the seaside where she can indulge in her feelings for him and he can keep her safe. But Isabella is disappointed when Marcus holds back from her in the bedroom and even more so when she discovers that he has been keeping secret from her. He does not want to get involved with her and he does not want to risk her life, but he is also unwilling to admit his feelings for her. In a fit of pique she runs back ton London and they both attempt to move on with their lives, but those men are still out there and Marcus needs to keep her safe. But in the end it is his fear of death that Marcus will have to overcome before he can end up with Isabella.
I was at first attracted to the idea of a repressed widow going after the bad guy rake that she wanted, but this book severely disappointed. Isabella was great by herself as she had genuine interests, she did go after what she wanted but she was also realistically scared and intimidated. Unfortunately Marcus was much less well done in general. He was a take charge kind of guy who was responsible for running Parliament apparently but we really did not see any examples of anything good he had done, although we did not get some great views of how he ruined guys who disagreed with him. Also I was very disappointed with his demons about dying early and going blind as not enough of the story was told from his point of view. While this could have been done at least fairly well there really was just not enough explanation and backstory to make this plot believable and it came across as just ridiculous and frustrating.
I sometimes complain about the murder/ mystery/ side-plot taking over the romance and the book, but in this case, although I felt the bizarre spy-whatever plot completely dominated the book, I wouldn't say that it overwhelmed as it did not end up taking up enough space in the book to really make any sense. Honestly I could not really figure out what the point of them wanting to hurt Marcus was or what he had really done to make them so mad at them. No one involved spent enough time reflecting on what was happening and to be honest I felt as though this part of the book was a carry over from other books in the series. Throughout the book I felt as though I was missing some very important backstory from these other books and things really seemed to pick up from where they left off in former books. In this same vein there were almost constant scenes where former love-birds showed up in the book and were just so gosh darn happy.
Rating: I really did not like this book at all except for how incredibly fast it went as both the romance and the side plot were underdone and almost everything was unexplained.