This historical romance novella captured my attention right from the beginning and I really enjoyed the story a lot. I loved how Winifred kept her chin up and soldiered forward even when life got hard, and Winifred has some really tough times, starting with being jilted at the alter. From there Winifred decided to take charge of her life and live the way she wants to. But, even that doesn't exactly work out like she planned.
Then we have Alistair Devlin, the Marquess of Coventry. He rescues Winifred after she is stranded in frigid temperatures and takes her to his castle. Now, Devlin has a rather ominous reputation. Rumors have circulated that he killed his wife by throwing her off a cliff. He is quiet and a little strange, which only solidifies his dark reputation.
Devlin and Winifred share a night of passion then both move forward with their lives. Now six years have passed and Devlin is a spy trying to break an important code. This leads him to Winifred, whose recently deceased husband had some maps Devlin really needs to study. Once more the two of them are under the same roof and once more the air between them is charged. But, six years is a long time and many things can happen in that amount of time. Is it possible they can rekindle their romance and make it more permanent this time around or will Winifred's responsibilities and obligations, namely her son, Oliver, keep them from being able to act upon the obvious chemistry between them?
There was a lot going on for such a short story. We deal with spies, blackmail, intrigue and secrets. The role of Polly, Winifred's ladies' maid, was a delightful secondary character who added humor to the story. All of this is delicious fun, but, the ending is simply too abrupt. Alistair discovers a shocking secret and it prompts him to take serious steps in his relationship with Winifred. This is wonderful, but once he realizes what has been right under his nose all this time, he does such an about face in such a short period of time, my head was spinning. This book really should have been a full length novel. There is plenty to explore with the spy angle, with Winifred's personal situation and with the secrets she has kept for many years. So, in the end I felt like some things got trimmed way back in order to squeeze the book down into a novella-sized story. Despite that “too rushed” feeling, I was really entertained by this one. I loved some of the issues explored and felt my heart swell when Alistair really opens his heart and mind to Winifred and Oliver and his life truly becomes fulfilled. He is going to make a great husband and father. You will be able to finish this one in no time, but I think you will also want it to last a lot longer than it does.
England, 1814 When Winifred is rescued from her snow-stranded carriage by the notorious and reclusive Alistair, Marquess of Coventry, she is instantly drawn to him. Jilted by her betrothed and socially ruined by untrue rumors, Winifred is tired of paying for crimes she didn't commit and decides to play the seductress London society claims she is. Thinking a night of passion shouldn't leave any lasting effects, she instead finds her heart marked forever. Six years later, Alistair is working for the Regent as a spy. A search for Napoleon's English supporters leads him to the beguiling Winifred, recently widowed with a young son. He hasn't forgotten how the unconventional beauty warmed his bed, and the heat between them rekindles immediately. The spymaster is determined to uncover all of plucky Winifred's secrets. Especially the one regarding her son...