Annalise Hadley lived in relative obscurity until her father, Jack Hadley, appeared out of nowhere and decided to invest part of his vast fortune toward marrying her, and her numerous half-sisters, off to members of the aristocracy. Annalise knows she is not beautiful and she has suffered a limp since a childhood accident, but she is hard working and kind. She is shocked and flattered when the Duke of Bloodsworth, the most eligible bachelor of the ton, picks her to be his bride but it turns out he only wanted her for her money- a fact she discovers when he tries to smother her and throws her overboard their wedding barge. Owen Crawford, Earl of MacDowell, is stunned to find a half-dead woman floating in the river and immediately takes her to the nearest shelter he can find even if it is a gypsy caravan. Owen has given up on ever being a normal human after living for years as an asassin in India and lives on the outskirts of his own family but something about this young woman draws him in.
When she awakes Annalise claims to have amnesia to avoid Owen bringing her back to Bloodworth and she wants to be up and out of bed as soon as possible as she hates feeling helpless. Owen is determined that she heal properly and appoints himself her nursemaid, even while rejecting the Gypsy's claim that she belongs to him now that he has saved her life. When it is finally time to leave the caravan he takes Annalise to his estate, planning to send her away once she is fully recovered. But when she asks him to teach her how to defend herself he can't help but wonder what secrets she is hiding and finds that he wants to know more about her. Annalise is falling for the handsome man who rescued her and who makes her feel safe for the first time in a long time. With Annalise's help Owen rediscovers the man he used to be and reunites with his family and with Owen's help, Annalise finally finds herself able to confront her past. Together, they know they are safe and can handle anything the world throws at them.
This installment in the Forgotten Princesses series featuring the illegitimate daughters of the wealthy Jack Hadley, neatly avoided falling into the series trap of focusing too much on past characters which I really admired. Sophie writes fun and very readable books that are quickly devoured and her written style is easy and flows nicely. Annalise was a wonderful character; strong and scared, caring and determined. I loved how Jordan portrayed Annalise as a victim of domestic violence who went from fear of the world to a determination to better herself and prevent it from ever happening again. Owen is a tortured hero with a buried past and a problem with connecting with other people. His past is certainly sufficient to creating such a character and I enjoyed reading about him overcoming his own fears and learning to accept himself and his past and looking toward the future. I liked that Owen helped Annalise overcome her fears and she helped him overcome his own, more buried, fears.
I could feel the heat between these two from the beginning, fairly scorching the pages, but unfortunately it ended up being a huge let down and they did not burn up the sheets anywhere near often enough. I was frustrated towards the end when Annalise naively gave into blackmail from Bloodsworth just because he threatened Owen when she should have known perfectly well that Owen could take care of himself. She'd seen him fight people! It brought my opinion of Annalise down quite a few notches and came across like an attempt to create a big dramatic confrontational ending. The ending was of course everything it should have been and neatly wrapped everything up with a big bow, but I didn't feel like it was completely predictable because there were some added plot twists.
Rating: An enjoyable book that had much promise, but a generic ending and the letdown of going from such scorching flirting to one mild mannered bedding brought this book down.