Thorne Blakemore, Fifth Earl of Grayson, is informed that he must marry Squire Carstairs' daughter, Alexandria. The unwilling earl remembers Alex as a hoyden and hasn't seen her in years. Now, true to form, she wears breeches to ride stallions, swims, and keeps a pet wolf.
When Alex is hurt in a confrontation with a poacher, her pet wolf won't allow anyone near her except Thorne. When she awakens-in bed and disrobed-her father arrives just in time to interrupt a kiss. Thorne offers to marry the rambunctious hellion to save her reputation if she'll produce an heir and remain faithful. She agrees with some conditions of her own.
Soon, Alexandria is determined to win over the ton to help Thorne's handicapped sister. Thorne must deal with her exploits, figure out how to protect his new wife and his sister from repercussions stemming from his work as a spy and handle one last mission with an amorous "other" woman.
Frances Ray uses the traditional elements of historical romance with excellent results. However, she introduces the hero's spying background a bit too late, and some details are incongruent to the novel's time period. Overall, this story affirms the delights of true romance reading. (Nov., 352 pp., $4.99)