TEMPTING THE EARL – Rachael Miles
The Muses' Salon Series – Book 3
The Earl of Levesford, Roderick Walgrave, convinced Olivia to marry his son, and forced his son, Harrison, to marry Olivia. Since the wedding, she has managed the estate and cared for the elderly earl whom she thought of as a father until his death. She loves Harrison but refuses to live the life he has thrust on her. Under the pseudonym An Honest Gentleman, she is now the author of a novel and writes magazine articles calling for reform that have raised the hackles of some government agents. Her writing now brings her enough income to support herself.
After two weeks of wedded bliss, Harrison joined the navy leaving for the war and still carrying his rage over his father forcing him to marry. He never wanted a gentle, dutiful wife but someone as adventurous as himself. While he has remained faithful to his wife during the six years of marriage, he has only contacted Olivia through his agent. Now, he receives one of her letters telling him she is having their marriage invalidated since irregularities happened in its performance. For the last year he has been in London, an earl since his father's death, and a Member of Parliament willing to speak against the Tories. He is also working as a spy for his government trying to discover who in the Parliament is giving away secret information. He is unsure what he wants, but remembers his encounters with Olivia with intense desire.
It turns out he is not the only spy in the family. Olivia also works for the Home Office. She was rescued by Sir Roderick when six years old and placed in a school that taught her how to spy and survive. She is every bit as smart and daring as Harrison. He arrives at his manor home to learn Olivia has opened his father's library to seven scholars. The staff is also loyal to his wife, and she has a truly bizarre cook. That's all right because he enters his home as another scholar the earl has sent, and no one except Olivia recognizes him. Then someone attacks Olivia.
The story is full of amazing situations from Olivia climbing over London roofs, singing and acting on stage, and warding off those trying to discover her alter ego, An Honest Gentleman . Harrison solves word puzzles with the scholars that help him decipher some code the Home Office desperately needs. At the same time Olivia is at odds with him at every turn. Characters from other books in the series show up, and readers might have a little difficulty in some scenes remembering or learning the thread of danger inherent in the spying impasse, but TEMPTING THE EARL is a standalone story that adds to the continuing line of suspense running through the series.