MOONLIGHT ON MY MIND – Jennifer McQuiston
England and Scotland, 1841 ~ 1842
It began in Yorkshire in November of 1841. The Earl and Countess of Haversham were hosting a house party at their country estate. Mr. Patrick Channing, the earl's second son, was having trouble fitting into this world after spending the last four years in Italy studying veterinary medicine. A flirty young miss insisted he'd promised her the first dance at the ball tonight. She's Miss Julianne Baxter, daughter of his father's good friend Viscount Avery, so he reluctantly dances with her. Now, Julianne is an unconventional young miss whose plan is to use Patrick to make his older brother Eric, the heir, notice her. Yet she enjoys the dance with Patrick, especially the kiss at the end. It was like nothing she had ever felt before. Her plan seems to work after Patrick leaves the ball and she dances with Eric. But next morning as the men prepare go out on a hunt, Julianne finds herself accusing Patrick of killing his brother. She'd heard an argument between the two, heard shots, and seen Patrick covered with his brother's blood. Some people believe her.
Eleven months later, Patrick is in Scotland where he has old friends from school. He's barely eking out a living as a small town veterinarian, when this irksome Miss Baxter finds him. Over the months, Julianne has had doubts about her hasty accusation and wants to make amends, especially now that the earl is dead. Patrick must come home; his mother and sisters need him. Besides, he must prove himself innocent and take his place as the new earl.
Julianne is impulsive in the extreme. She is supposed to go to London after the old earl's funeral. Instead, she makes her way—leaving her maid behind—to the north of Scotland where she's heard Patrick might be. It takes some time and a letter from home before Patrick is convinced he is needed. But there is a problem. Miss Channing's reputation—already a bit shaky—would be ruined for good if they traveled back together, yet he can't let her travel alone again. A good friend, now a solicitor, advises marriage. Besides, as his wife, Julianne cannot be forced to testify against him. Patrick proposes a marriage of convenience to save her good name…he doesn't, however, mention the little thing about her testifying. Julianne never forgot the kiss at the ball…even though she'd tried kissing a few more men during the last London Season.
MOONLIGHT ON MY MIND has many sides: it's entertaining, romantic, mysterious, and suspenseful. Its heroine is an irrepressible delight determined to right a wrong. The hero is guilty of nothing more than wanting to live his own life. He never wanted to be an earl; he only wanted to do something useful that he enjoys…like taking care of animals. As for the villain, there are plenty of suspects, and it's an up and down ride to find the guilty party. And that can also be scary.
I highly recommend MOONLIGHT ON MY MIND to everyone who likes a good story well told. The author is interesting as well…a real life vet herself. Check out her fun website at www.jenmcquiston.com and then look up her first two books; they loosely connect to this one. They are WHAT HAPPENS IN SCOTLAND and SUMMER IS FOR LOVERS. I want to read them, too.