Witty and smart, Collins’ prose flows smoothly as she merges a charming, compassionate love story with gothic suspense. Collins again brings modern-day issues into the Regency period, compelling readers to identify with her three-dimensional characters. Add strong pacing and depth of emotion, and there’s no doubt this is a winner.

Lady Isabella Wharton survived an abusive marriage to become a belle of the ball, so it shouldn’t be difficult to follow her godmother’s orders and lure her grandson back to London. Trevor Carey, the new Duke of Ormond, has no interest in London society. He prefers to care for his Yorkshire estate, his sisters and their tenants. Lady Isabella holds no allure, but he does agree to visit his grandmother. Surprisingly, a friendship blossoms between them and Isabella is enjoying her visit — except for the strange accidents, and the threatening notes she receives. Trevor is determined to uncover who is behind the trouble, and when they are caught in a compromising situation he announces their engagement. Isabella trusts Trevor to protect her, but more than one ruthless villain is ready to destroy them. (ST. MARTIN’S, Aug., 340 pp., $7.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin