THE DANGER IN TEMPTING AN EARL – Sophie Barnes
At the Kingsborough Ball , Book 3
Lucian Marvaine has known Katherine her whole life. It started at her christening when he was seven, and their friendship flourished for years until, one day, Lucien realized that Kate was becoming a woman...a very desirable one. As a second son, Lucien's future was in the military, and no matter how much he loved Kate, he had nothing to offer a lady wife. He went off to war without telling her how he felt. Lucien returned home after Waterloo only to find his beloved brother dying of a fever. On top of that loss, Lucien learned Katherine was now married to Viscount Crossby—whom Lucien had never liked—and on a honeymoon trip with him. Then Lucien's father, the Earl of Roxberry, began to harangue him to do his duty and to marry and produce an heir. It was just too much, losing his brother and losing Katherine now that he was suddenly so eligible. He ran back to France. It was another two years before he came home. His father had died in the meantime, and Lucien is now the earl.
The big news in the neighborhood these days is the masked ball the Duke of Kingsborough is giving. Katherine is just out of mourning for her husband and plans to attend. The day of the ball, she gets a message from Lucien offering to escort her. They haven't met in four years; he never wrote to her in all that time. Is their old friendship still intact?
Lucien's heart runs true. He still loves Kate, but she's a widow with a young daughter. He believes his best tactic is to take up the friendship and hold off on declaring himself. In many ways, she's his old Kate, yet she's somehow different, too.
THE DANGER IN TEMPTING AN EARL follows two points of view, Lucien's and Katherine's. There are gains and setbacks in learning each other again. They both hold back from complete openness, but it's clear to the reader that Kate's marriage was far from happy. As for Lucien's plans to woo her gently, she keeps insisting she will never remarry.
But back to the ball, the setting of all three novels' beginnings…a shot rings out and one of the ladies is wounded, but it later turns out that Katherine might have been the intended target. This adds a large element of mystery to the story and gives a reason for Lucien to keep Kate close in order to protect her. A lot of give and take occurs between the two; love will win out given the chance. Look for lively dialogue on the way to the conclusion. If I have one criticism, it would be the lengthy bouts of introspection by the hero and heroine that sometimes tried my patience.
The three novels, THE TROUBLE WITH BEING A DUKE, THE SCANDAL IN KISSING AN HEIR, and the danger in tempting an earl run pretty much concurrent with each other, and many of the characters from the earlier works appear in this one. While reading them all isn't absolutely necessary, I recommend it for maximum enjoyment.