I love a good story about an eccentric, particularly one whose interests take a mainly scientific bent, and that’s what drew me to Cat Sebastian’s latest book, having previously passed up on my initial chance to read and review her debut novel. I quite like tricksters with inconvenient bouts of conscience too, so that was a second reason for picking up this novel, which turned out to require surprisingly little knowledge of the one that came before for much of the story.
Lawrence, the Earl of Radnor, has a keen interest in new technologies and is enthusiastic about further developing the latest scientific theories. He also has an unfortunate knack of causing explosions, leading to any number of his servants to leave their employment on the estate, as well as provoking much muttering from the locals. On top of that, Lawrence suffers bouts of crippling anxiety, a disability he believes to be a sign of impending madness, and so avoids company as much as possible, shutting himself up in the house where he spent a most wretched childhood. The supposedly mad earl does have some supporters, however, and one of them – the local vicar – suggests that Lawrence hire a secretary in order to deal with the mundane matters of running a household and to prepare for the imminent arrival of Lawrence’s son, whose mother was previously ruined and then abandoned by Lawrence’s now-deceased brother.
Enter one Georgie Turner, a thief and confidence trickster who has double-crossed the wrong man and needs to get away from London until all the fuss surrounding his latest escapade dies down. Georgie’s brother has been put in contact with Lawrence’s vicar, and it has been agreed that Georgie will make an ideal secretary for Lawrence. And so Georgie is dispatched to Cornwall, where he finds a house in uproar and an earl who is nowhere near as mad as people have been making out.
The attraction between Lawrence and Georgie occurs very rapidly, but both have good reasons for not acting on their desires. In the meantime, they slowly develop respect and friendship towards each other and Lawrence comes to trust Georgie with more and more aspects of his life and work – a trust that Georgie feels is misplaced. Just as everything seems to be working in favour of the two men – and towards a reconciliation between Lawrence and his young son – Georgie’s past catches up with him and the new life he has been carefully constructing comes crashing down upon him. With Georgie in serious trouble back in London and Lawrence beset by fears over leaving his estate, much less travelling away into town, it seems that all might be lost, but sometimes the bravest people are those who know how much danger they’re facing and how much hurt failure might cause them and their loved ones.
This really was an excellent book, and I’m keen to go back and read the first in the series in good time before the next comes out. I definitely hope to see many more from this author too.
An earl hiding from his future . . .
Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.
A swindler haunted by his past . . .
Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.
Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives?
Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember.
Read an excerpt.