The Earl with the Secret Past (Harlequin Historical)

Written by Janice Preston
Review by Ray Thompson

Aware that marriage between an architect’s apprentice and an earl’s daughter would be disastrous, Adam rejects Kitty’s request that they elope. But fifteen years later he learns that he is, in fact, the only son of an earl who has recently died. The pair meet again, he still single, she a lovely widow, both now equal in rank; but can they resolve the misunderstandings that lie between them? The sparks soon rekindle, but she, though a beloved stepmother, is childless, and does not an earl need an heir? And who is trying to kill Adam?

This is a ‘second-chance-at-love’ romance of the kind popularized by Austen’s Persuasion, with a touch of mystery thrown in to add further suspense. The lovers are sympathetic figures: Adam in his struggles to adjust to an unfamiliar role, and the young Kitty at the mercy of a father ready to marry her off to settle gambling debts. Despite hurt feelings, both struggle to be fair-minded as they reassess their past interaction and present circumstances. More openness would have helped, but it is never easy to break the habit of concealing one’s insecurities from others.

Recommended to lovers of Regency romances.