Published by Avon Impulse on August 2, 2016
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
The sheltered daughter of a country baron, Miss Adeline Pimm comes to London looking for adventure… and finds it in the form of a bloody, unconscious man slumped in the doorway of her family’s rented townhouse. Though his identity is a mystery, Adeline is inexplicably drawn to the handsome, injured man and vows to nurse him back to health.
Liam Cavanaugh, the scandalous Earl of Wolford, is startled when he awakens in an unfamiliar bed, wrapped in bandages that hinder his eyesight, with no memory of why he was beaten half to death. Although he can’t see the witty young woman who tends to his wounds, her alluring voice—and a single stolen kiss from her soft lips—helps soothe his pain. But when he is fully healed, Liam is not ready to let go of the one woman who stirs his deepest longings.
Liam will do whatever it takes to see Adeline again, even if it means giving up his rakish ways. But his disreputable past is not so easily forgotten and his secrets are far more dangerous than he—or Adeline—ever imagined.
Liam Cavanaugh grinned at the corrugated lines marking his cousin’s lifted brows. It wasn’t often that Northcliff Bromley, the Duke of Vale and renowned genius, showed astonishment.
Bending his dark head, Vale peered closer at the marble heads within the crates. “Remarkable. Even seeing them side by side, I hardly notice a difference. The fellows will be fascinated when you present this to the Royal Society at month’s end.”
“It was pure luck that I had the original as well.” Liam shrugged as if he’d merely stumbled upon the differences between a genuine article and an imposter.
Vale turned, and his obsidian eyes sharpened on Liam. “No need to play the simpleton with me. You forget that I know your secret.”
Liam cast a hasty glance around the sconce-lit, cluttered ballroom of Wolford House, ensuring they were alone. Fortunately, the vast space was empty aside from the two of them and a dozen or more large crates filled with artifacts. “By definition, a secret is that of which we do not speak. So lower your voice, if you please.”
No one needed to know that he actually studied each piece of his collection in detail—enough that he’d learned how to spot a forgery in an instant.
“Afraid the servants will tell the ton your collection isn’t merely a frivolous venture? Or that your housekeeper’s complaints of dusty urns and statues crowding each room would suddenly fall silent?” Vale flashed a smile that bracketed his mouth with deep creases.
Liam pretended to consider his answer, pursing his lips. “It would be cruel of me to render Mrs. Brasher mute when she finds such enjoyment in haranguing me.”
“She may have a point,” Vale said, skirting in between two crates when a wayward nail snagged his coat, issuing a sharp rip of rending fabric. He stopped to examine the hole and shook his head. “Your collection has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few months. So much so that you were forced to purchase another property to house it all.”
“The curse of immense wealth and boredom, I’m afraid.”
His cousin’s quick glower revealed that he was not amused by Liam’s insouciant guise. Then, as if to punish him for it, he issued the foulest epithet known to man. “You should marry.”
Not wanting to reveal the discomfort slowly clawing up his spine, Liam chuckled. “As a cure for boredom?”
Vale said nothing. He merely crossed his arms over his chest and waited.
It was a standoff now. They were nearly equal in regard to observation skills, but apparently Vale thought he had the upper hand.
Liam knew differently. He crossed his arms as well and smirked.
If anyone were to peer into the room at this moment, they might wonder if they were staring at matching wax figures. The two of them looked enough alike in build and coloring to be brothers, but with subtle differences. Vale’s features were blunter, while Liam’s were angular. And Vale’s dark eyes were full of intellect, while Liam’s green eyes tended to reveal the streak of mischief within.
“Marriage would do you good,” Vale said.
Liam disagreed. “You’re starting to sound like Thayne, always hinting of ways to improve my social standing.”
The Marquess of Thayne was determined to reform Liam into the ton’s favorite pet—the Season’s Original. In fact, Thayne had been so confident in success that he’d wagered on the outcome. What a fool.
“I never hint,” Vale said.
Liam offered his cousin a nod. “True. You are a forthright, scientific gentleman, and I appreciate that about you. Therefore, I will give you the courtesy of answering in kind: No. I should not marry. I like my life just as it is.” He lifted his hands in a gesture to encompass his collection within this room. “Besides, I could never respect a woman who would have me.”
Vale scoffed. “Respect?”
“Very well. I could never trust a woman who desired to marry me. Not with my reputation. Such a woman would either be mad or conniving, and I want neither for a wife.”
He’d nearly succumbed once, falling for the worst of all deceptions. After that narrow escape, he’d vowed never to be tricked again.
“Come now. There are many who care nothing for your reputation.”
That statement only served to cement his belief. If his despoiled reputation were the only thing keeping him far afield of the ton’s conniving matchmakers, then he would make the most of it. And the perfect place to add the crème de la crème to his list of scandalous exploits would be at Lady Forester’s masquerade tonight.
After all, he had a carefully crafted reputation of unrepentant debauchery to uphold.
Liam squared his shoulders and walked with his cousin to the door. “If the Fates have it in mind to see me married before I turn sixty, then they will have to knock me over the head and drag me to the altar.”
You can follow the Season’s Original series on Goodreads.
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~~Reviewed by AnnMarie~~
This Earl is on Fire is the second book in the ‘Season’s Original’ series by Vivienne Lorret. I have had the pleasure of reading the first book, but it certainly isn’t necessary to have done so in order to understand and fully enjoy this second book.
This is the story of Miss Adeline Pimm. She was born with one leg shorter than the other and has to wear an especially adapted shoe in order for her to walk with more ease. She has lived in the country her whole life, and has been wrapped in cotton wool by her parents and all who know her. She finally convinces her parents to go to London so that for the first time ever she can take in the sights and sounds, the balls, the parks, just everything. Her parents believe she wants to go in order to find herself a husband, but all she wants is to be able to spread her wings and have the freedom that up until now she hasn’t been allowed.
Her first taste of freedom comes on the very first morning of her time in London. When the family were ready to go out they opened their front door only to find a badly beaten, unconscious gentleman falling into the foyer. Despite what society might say, in fact, caring nothing for it, the family, having no servants yet, managed to carry the man upstairs to one of the bedrooms where Adeline took it upon herself to clean the man up and nurse him. She was alone in a room with him for many nights, in itself a bigger adventure than she had ever had.
The man in question is Liam Cavanaugh, the Earl of Wolford. He’s worked hard to earn his reputation as a rake. He was hurt badly many years ago when he found out the woman he thought loved him, was only marrying him for his title. He knew that kind of thing went on, but never dreamed it would happen to him. Since then he’s hardened his heart and like Adeline, isn’t interested in marriage. Oh he knows he has to produce an heir, but he figures he will marry some young thing when he is 60, and will give no thought to it until then. When he spends days healing under Adeline’s care, he comes to enjoy her voice, loves her scent, and especially loves a stolen kiss they share before he is well enough to go back to his own home. Once he does that he misses Adeline terribly, but will he let his past dictate whether he pursues her. And if he does, will he be able to convince her that marrying him wouldn’t mean losing her independence? He can’t even believe he is thinking of marriage, after all, he is a long way for the planned for 60 years of age.
As well as thinking of Adeline and their possible future, he also has to worry about who it was that attacked him and why? Why are his homes being burgled and yet ridiculously small things only being taken. He has a huge collection of very expensive artefacts and yet they aren’t touched. Why rob a house and not take at least a few very expensive items? What are they looking for, and is he in further danger. If he is in danger, then so is Adeline if he pursues her. What is he to do? Can he love her, can he keep her safe? Can he even keep himself safe?
This book is one that once you start reading it you won’t want to put it down. Adeline and her family are such sweethearts, and from the start you fall in love with them. Liam definitely needs a family like theirs in his life, he has been hardened to all things beautiful, and it is so refreshing to him to be with people who genuinely care about other people. Of course along with the possible courtship of him and Adeline there is the mystery about his attack and the break ins of his homes. I was shocked to find out who was actually behind it all. I love when I can’t guess a culprit!
All in all this was a thoroughly enjoyable story and I fully intend to read the next in the series. Vivienne Lorret is an author who is definitely on my favourite authors list.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.