This one is the sequel to Hawkins' Her Master and Commander. This tells the story Christian Llevanth, Viscount Westerville. He is the twin brother of the Tristan who we met in Hawkins' earlier novel. Now that Tristan is happily married, although without fortune, Christian feels he can pursue the goal that has kept him fighting for life all these years, revenge.
As children, Tristan and Christian were abandoned by their father and their mother was falsely accused of being a traitor to the crown. Christian has searched for year to find the person that supplied the false information against his mother. It eventually caused her death since she became ill in prison and died before she was given a trial.
He has followed clues after clues until he ends up at the door of the Duke of Massingale. He now has to find a way to get through the doors of the reclusive Duke in hopes to find the proof he needs of the Duke's involvement in his mother's downfall. He believes the key can be found in Lady Elizabeth, the Duke's granddaughter.
Elizabeth has spent her life in the country caring for her cantankerous grandfather and ensconced in the library with her nose buried in a book. When her grandfather becomes ill and asks her to go to London for a season, she has difficulties refusing him. But just because she is going to town for the season does not mean she has to find herself a husband. To discourage any potential suitors she pretends to have a horrible stutter. The plot appeared to be working until Viscount Westerville strolls into her life and sees beyond her verbally challenged vocabulary.
Unfortunately for Christian's plan, she is not the only one affected and with a conscious called Reeves, he finds himself confessing to his plans in short order. With the little time he has spent with Elizabeth he is not surprised to have her agree to help him but things are easier said than done when these two find themselves entangled by more than the mystery of who framed Christian's mother.
Having been caught by a large group of people in a VERY compromising position in the billiard room, Christian has found his way into the house of the Duke. What he didn't expect was to like the darn man so much. Now he finds himself in the moral dilemma as to honor the vow to his dead mother or to grasp at the chance for happiness life has given him.
Loved the verbal sparing between Christian and Reeves. That butler was just too much! What disappointed me was that Hawkins didn't delve into Christian's past. We never really got details on how Christian became a highwayman. At least not in the details we got for Tristan's past. I would have like to know more of his past since it might have added weight to his guilt at possibly betraying his mother's memory by falling in love with the granddaughter of her accuser.