A year ago Mallory Byron learned that her fiance, Michael Hargreave, was killed in battle and has been in semi-mourning ever since. Her family has begun to worry about her and hope that she will manage to become a little more like her lively self for the house party their family is hosting. Her brothers friend Adam, Lord Gresham, will be there and he has always been able to bring Mallory out of her doldrums. Years ago Adam had discovered that he loved Mallory but because of his penniless state he backed off and it broke his heart to see her become engaged to another man. Although he regrets that Michael died he has no intention of backing off Mallory this time and he intends to win Mallory's love and marry her. Mallory does not know how she will ever get over Michael as she loved him, but spending time with the fun and very caring Adam helps quite a bit.
One night she has a nightmare about Michael and when Adam goes to her bedroom to comfort her the two are discovered and are forced into a marriage. Although this was not what Michael wanted he is still determined he can make her love him and sets about doing everything in his power to make her happy. Mallory is surprised but delighted at how happy she is in her marriage and it is not long before she is falling in love with him. Before she can tell him her feelings Michael reappears back from the dead and wants to get back with Mallory. Adam is furious and after catching them in a compromising position he forbids Mallory from ever seeing Michael again. Although Mallory agrees initially she knows that something is not right in her marriage if Adam cannot trust her and when she goes against his wishes they are both confronted with the fact that life without the other is not worth living.
I've read all of the books so far in the Byron series by Tracy Anne Warren and they have all been satisfying reads if not precisely exciting. I feel like she stepped it up to the next level in this book with some more interesting twists and a little reversal of roles. I am used to heroines who have pined after the hero from afar and I enjoyed having the opposite be true in this book. It brought some really nice moments of emotional turmoil on his part and it was interesting to read this from the perspective of the hero. There were also his issues with her relationship with Michael and how he was first worried she wouldn't love him as much as she did Michael, then frustrated, then angry and acting like an ass and knowing he was but not knowing how to fix things. But through it all it was great because it was obvious that he loved and wanted what was best for Mallory. It made him a very well done character.
Mallory was well done as well because she was torn between her love for Michael and wanting to move on but feeling guilt about doing so. Her mourning of Michael is realistic and then her slowly managing to fall in love with Adam was just icing on the cake. Michael's return from the dead was something I was able to guess fairly early on and while it might not have been a big shock it was a really important addition to the plot because it made them realize some truths about their relationship and they had to confront their fears about their marriage and find a way to make their love work. The most annoying aspect of this book was the fact that the other Byron's payed such an amazingly large part and while it made sense because she was unmarried and still living at home it was just too much. Too many concerned, overly happy people who were literally all expecting and having lots of children.
Rating: A great job from Warren who makes a wonderful addition to her Byron series with great characters and romance.