Evangeline Pemperton seeks sanctuary with Lady Stanton and her daughter, Susan, to escape from her abusive step-father after her mother's death. Lady Stanton agrees to help and Evangeline accompanies them to Blackberry Manor, home of Gavin Lioncroft. Lioncroft is the brother of a Duke but he has been estranged from his family and the ton after his parents untimely death in a carriage accident was blamed on him. Despite his unsavory reputation Lady Stanton still believes that marriage to him is the best that Susan can do after a public blowout with Francine Rutherford that left Susan an outcast. Lady Stanton enlists Evangeline's help in getting Lioncroft and Susan alone and then raising a hue and cry until Lioncroft has no choice but to marry Susan. But Blackberry Manor is not what anyone was expecting and Lioncroft is certainly different as well.
Evangeline has the ability to see people's past memories and future when she touches them and Lioncroft is the first person she cannot see into. So in addition to the immense attraction she feels for him, there is an added element of mystery and the sense that he is not as guilty as everyone believes. When his brother-in-law is murdered the night after Lioncroft and he have a heated argument everyone assumes that Lioncroft is the killer, except Evangeline. Lioncroft knows what it is like to be alone after being turned away by his entire family and when he finally has Evangeline in his corner, trusting in his innocence, he wants to offer her everything. However, with the threat of an execution hanging over his head he can't ruin her life by tying her to a murderer. When he discovers her secret he enlists her help in rooting out the true killer, but when her stepfather comes looking for her everything threatens to unravel. When the murderer is revealed, Lioncroft knows he must do everything to get justice so that he can finally offer Evangeline everything.
When she was trusting and helping Lioncroft the romance reached really great levels because he was such an outcast and didn't think anyone would ever like him, so I loved that aspect of the story. There was not really much sex going on between the two of them and a few angry kisses that didn't adequately illustrate how great their attraction was throughout the rest of the book. Evangeline's ability to read people was unexpected and troubling for me as I never really go for romances where there's supernatural abilities. And of course they resulted in massive headaches on her part because no one could ever have such great powers and not have to suffer as a result. The murder plot was great because it really was a mystery and lead to some interesting moments where both of them were able to express how much the other meant to each other and how much they were willing to do for each other. It was also a great surprise who really killed the man and it lead to the discovery of some really great and well developed secondary characters who really made this story.
Rating: I think it says a lot that I did enjoy the secondary characters more than Evangeline and Lioncroft and thought both of them should have undergone some maturing, but the book was readable.