When the Dark Duke of Barroughly, Adrian Fitzwalter, returns wounded from the wars, he finds that his life and family have not changed. His step-mother still favors her son Elliot, with good cause, if gossip is to be believed.

Adrian has a reputation as a heartless rogue with legendary seductive powers. Since she is plain, Hester Pimblett, the Duchess's companion, knows she has nothing to fear from Adrian. Yet she senses something in Adrian, and to his chagrin, Adrian is attracted to Hester.

A deathbed promise to his father keeps Adrian from revealing the truth about himself or Elliot and compels him to protect Hester from Elliot's evil, even though he longs to make her his own.

The plot thickens when a woman from Elliot's past attends a ball. Adrian continues to protect the family secret, but once Hester knows the truth she will do anything to bring him happiness.

This is a tale of things not always being what they seem. Along with engaging characters (an especially delightful cast of secondary characters), this novel combines humor, Gothic overtones and a happy ending to satisfy readers who want a pleasant evening's read. SWEET (May, 350 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Evelyn Feiner