Mystery has always surrounded the Ashwood estate. Lily Boudine is well aware of many of Ashwood’s secrets for she spent most of her childhood there and sadly was witness to a crime that sent a man to the gallows. Lily has been summoned to return to Ashwood fifteen years later as the new Countess of Ashwood. Afraid to face her past, Lily comes up with a plan. She has her dear cousin, Keira Hannigan, go to Ashwood in her place and act as her representative until Lily returns from a scheduled trip abroad. Keira jumps at the opportunity to escape Ireland and the possibility of being forced into a loveless marriage in return for a new adventure at Ashwood.
Keira arrives at Ashwood ready to act as Lily’s representative, but circumstances force Keira to assume the identity of the Countess of Ashwood. She just hopes that Lily will return from abroad quickly to assume her rightful title while Keira tries to prevent Ashwood from falling into financial ruin. Declan O’Connor, Earl of Donnelly, is well acquainted with Keira and is shocked to find her masquerading as her cousin, Lily. Keira and Declan share a rather turbulent history stemmed from an incident that occurred during Keira’s misspent youth and she has been haunted by it ever since. Declan finds Keira beautiful yet exasperating and Keira pleads with him to protect her secret.
Keira also convinces Declan to help her solve the mystery surrounding the crime that Lily was witness to as a child. As time progresses, the answers begin to lead to more questions for Declan and Keira with greater risks of Keira’s charade being discovered by others at Ashwood. Passion and desire also begin to strengthen their bond with one another to the point where hearts may be broken when Lily finally returns to take Keira’s place as the Countess of Ashwood.
This was a beautiful and haunting romance with a hint of mystery and intrigue. Keira was a bold, independent character that was looking to experience the world by agreeing to take Lily’s place at Ashwood. She never expected that the one man that could make her blood boil and her heart race as Declan O’Connor, would arrive on her doorstep at Ashwood. Declan was very dashing, handsome and the perfect counterpart for Keira’s free spirit. I knew that these two would finally see the light and realize that they belonged with one another. The only thing that I didn’t like about this story was that it ended with many unanswered questions and I have to wait until Lily’s story for the mystery to be solved.
In 1792, the village of Hadley Green executed a man for stealing the Countess of Ashwood’s historic jewels. Fifteen years later, questions still linger. Was it a crime of greed—or of passion?
When Declan O’Connor, Earl of Donnelly, arrives at Hadley Green to meet with Lily Boudine, the new countess of Ashwood, he knows instantly that the lovely woman who welcomes him is not who she pretends to be. In an attempt to avoid an unwanted marriage, Keira Hannigan has assumed her cousin’s identity and is staying at the estate while Lily is abroad. When Declan threatens to expose her, Keira convinces him to guard her secret, then enlists him in her investigation of the missing jewels, for she now believes an innocent man was hanged.
Unable to deny the beautiful, exasperating Keira—or their simmering passion—Declan reluctantly agrees. But neither is prepared for the dangerous stranger who threatens to reveal Keira’s lies . . . and Declan knows he must protect Keira at all costs, for she is the woman who now owns his heart.