His Scandalous Kiss by Sophie Barnes
Series: Secrets at Thorncliff Manor #3
Published by Avon
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
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Thorncliff Manor is the perfect setting for a masquerade ball... where the heart’s secret desires are about to be uncovered in this scintillating Regency romance from Sophie Barnes...
Richard Heartly has exiled himself from society since the war, plotting his revenge for a terrible betrayal. A masked ball at Thorncliff Manor is intended to be a brief diversion. Instead, he encounters a fascinating young woman as entranced by the music as he is. He can’t reveal his identity to Lady Mary. But her siren song keeps drawing him back, and their clandestine meetings could be hazardous to his plan—and to her virtue.
Avoiding an unwanted marriage was easy when Lady Mary was ignored by the ton. Thanks to her dazzling appearance at the masquerade, she’s a wallflower no longer. Eligible suitors abound, yet the only man she wants is the brooding, seductive companion who keeps his face hidden. A man who tempts her to disclose her own shocking secret, one that could divide them forever.
Richard was injured while fighting for his country during the Battle of Waterloo. He had been sent on a mission and had been captured and tortured. He was disfigured so when he returned home he let people think he was still MIA – even dead. It was easier than explaining what had happened to him time and again. He’s horrified by his scars and refuses to even see his mother and sisters – only talking to his brother and father. He’s also determined to ruin the man who he feels was responsible for his capture and torture and will stop at nothing until that is done.
Richard’s family is spending the summer at Thorncliff Manor and the hostess there has a masquerade. She talks Richard into attending which he does with a cloak and full mask on. While there he meets Mary. She at first tells him that her name is Eleanor and he tells her that he is Signor Antonio. Not knowing who the other is doesn’t deter them from finding a connection with each other through their talk of music and books. When Richard refuses to identify himself to Mary’s aunt after he dances with her the aunt refuses to let them see each other.
Mary has a huge secret that she keeps from everyone – she sings (there’s more to it than that but I’ll keep that a secret as well) – and in order to practice she goes to a cave that she found on the Thorncliff property. After Richard had saved Mary from a lecher by the name of Lord Rotridge, Richard is concerned for her safety. When he spies her from his window heading off into the dark he follows her. Not only do they end up spending time together (he is still masked) but they find something intriguing under the foundation of Thorncliff. They continue to meet each other in secret despite her aunts demand otherwise. Mary eventually gets Richard to take off the mask but when he finds out who she really is and all their secrets come out they may not be able to stay together.
When I first started this book I’m not sure if I just wasn’t into reading a historical romance at the time or not but didn’t get too far into the first chapter and put it down. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that I picked it up again and started it from page one. I’m SO happy I did! This was a very sweet romance with a scarred hero and the woman that brings him out of his self-imposed protective shell.
The romance story between Richard and Mary is one that I very much enjoyed. It consisted of talking between the characters and finding common ground. It was long glances and shared touches and was just so perfect for the two of them. Mary was almost on the shelf and had decided not to get married. He, of course, never thought he would leave his room much less meet a woman and fall in love. He never thought he would reveal himself to anyone but when he finally admits his love for Mary he has to admit to himself that his life is lonely and he hates it as it is. I loved the dynamic between the H/h and wanted them to work out from the first time they met.
The part of the story where Mary and Richard find this intriguing part of the cave system that she sings in and of course the information they find there was a decent part of the story but I think it was part of the overall series arc. That said, I hadn’t read the first two books in the series so I was a little lost about why it all mattered, etc. It was interesting but I didn’t find any entertainment from it as I didn’t have a clue what was going on.
Overall this was a sweet romance. I loved the characters and the writing and definitely recommend the book.
Rating: 4 out of 5