Merrill deftly delivers a well-crafted, potent and passionate story of a mother's cold-hearted interference, a brother's warped vow of revenge and a man and a woman who find that even under adversity, the greatest gift of all is love.

Widower Marcus Radwill, Duke of Haughleigh, is in no hurry to marry again, especially to someone his dying mother has in mind. But his promise to her on her deathbed turns into reality when a bedraggled Lady Miranda Grey, his intended bride, appears on his doorstep. Marcus does the honorable thing and marries her.

Miranda is not a great beauty like his first wife, nor is she a delicate flower that wilts at the first sign of his temper. It remains to be seen if she is chaste and trustworthy.

A visit to his London solicitor may help clear up the mystery of his secretive and intriguing wife. When Marcus' brother St. John arrives unexpectedly, Miranda is glad for his company. She is unaware of the longstanding animosity between the brothers that deepened when Marcus married his first wife -- a woman St. John loved. When Marcus returns home determined to make the marriage work, neither he nor Mirand a realizes that St. John is a danger to their love. (Harlequin, Oct., 297 pp., $5.50)
Reviewed by: 
Joan Hammond