At last, this fascinating series reaches the book many of us have been eagerly anticipating: the one that tells Julius’ story. Acknowledged by his cousins to be the leader of the Emperors, Julius, the Earl of Winterton – heir to the Duke of Kirkburton – is the man they all turn to for help when they encounter problems in their personal, professional, or political dealings. Julius’ own private life, however, is far from the orderly affair he would like others to view it as being.
Julius and his first wife led a wild and debauched existence, although in Julius’ case the worst excesses ended with the birth of his daughter, Caro. Since being widowed as the result of an accident he was unable to prevent, Julius has done his best to care for the girl, as well as for the elder of his two young sisters – Helena – much to the annoyance of their mother who wishes only for Julius to make an advantageous second marriage while his sister returns home as a permanent companion to her. Julius wants to remarry too, although his priorities are somewhat different: he wants a mother for Caro and a friend for Helena until such time as she meets a man she wishes to marry.
While on the trail of another of the Old Pretender’s secret children, Julius receives bad news: his mother has fetched Helena and Caro back to the family home and is determined to hold them with her until Julius has remarried to a woman of her choosing. Julius has no interest in the girls his mother parades before him, but is entranced at his first sight of the woman he is investigating. He decides to pose as an ordinary member of the wealthy merchant class in order to befriend her and find out how much she knows about her past – and how close their enemies are to finding her.
Eve Merton was brought up as the daughter of a clergyman and believes that the papers claiming her as the daughter of a king to be forgeries. Since her father’s death, she and her mother have lived in genteel poverty, with Eve’s attempts to make a living as a governess so far proving unsuccessful. When she meets the handsome Mr. Julius Vernon along her route home, Eve is intrigued and wants to know him better. She is delighted when he begins to call on her and her mother, but a series of incidents lead her to believe that someone in, or close to, her village has less benevolent intentions towards her.
After an attempt on Eve’s life, Julius decides to take her to his family home, where a house party is soon to take place, in order for her to be as well protected as he can contrive. Not all those working for him are quite as they seem, however, and the overarching plot of the series continues to thicken as we learn that the two main Jacobite factions are at odds with each other, and that yet more enemies of the crown may be taking an interest in the Emperors and those they seek to shield.
All in all, a marvellous adventure that was well worth the wait. I enjoyed seeing more of the lives of the other Emperors as well, and of finding out so many details of Julius’ background. Of course, I still want more from this series, and it seems we’re going to get to know Helena better very soon.
It is up to the Emperors of London to protect the throne—without risking their hearts…
Governess Eve Merton would have fallen into serious trouble on her walk home if a handsome stranger had not stopped to help her. But when Mr. Vernon gives her a lift on his horse, he makes no secret of his attraction. As a well brought-up young lady, Eve does her best not to notice, but when he sets about courting her, she knows she’s in trouble. For she has a secret: she is the daughter of a deposed king, which means not only is she without a dowry, but also that her life is in danger…
Little does Eve know that Mr. Vernon has secrets of his own. In truth, his name is Julius, Lord Winterton, and he’s well aware that Eve is the offspring of the Old Pretender. In order to save his sister, he must convince Eve to wed—though he wants nothing to do with love. But as the two grow closer and an attempt is made on Eve’s life, Julius may realize that fighting his heart’s true desire is a battle most pleasurably surrendered…
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: