Duke of Scandal

Duke of Sin

The Dukeís Indiscretion

My Darling Caroline

When It's Perfect

Winter Garden

Someone Irresistible

Stolen Charms

A Notorious Proposition
by Adele Ashworth
(Avon, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0060876104
When reviewing the TRR reviews for novels by Adele Ashworth, we find a real mixed bag from 5 heart keepers to two heart warnings. A Notorious Proposition falls somewhere in between.

This is a sequel to Winter Garden and is deeply entrenched in the story that started in that novel. Not having read the previous entry, I can only assume that many of the characters played a role in that mystery. While I do believe this story stands on its own, the fact that I didnít have the history and had to discover it all here was taxing in the first 100 pages. It took that long for the real mystery to take hold. Even then, I really didnít know who to trust and who to fully like. Since I easily put this down and often picked it up with less than enthusiasm, a three-heart rating is the best I felt I could give.

Lady Ivy Wentworth is an agent for the Crown, has some insights that many claim are psychic, and is recovering from a love affair that went bad two years ago. Then she was involved on the periphery of searching for blue diamonds that belonged in a tiara known as the Martello Diamonds. During that adventure she found herself falling for Garrett Burke, who was also searching for the diamonds. Her brother Ian was also involved. Someone betrayed the plot and Garrett got hurt. In his anger, he wondered if Ian had betrayed him and whether Ivy had been in on the betrayal. Despite her love for him, she left and has not seen him since.

Now, she has been hired by correspondence by the Marquess of Rye, a man she has not met and who is known to be reclusive. He wants her to go back to Winter Garden to the estate he recently acquired from the villain from the first novel. There are reports of ghosts and Ivy has also had visions of Ian in trouble there.

Garrett Burke has never given up hope of finding the diamonds and discovering who betrayed him. When he was hit on the head at the rendezvous point, he lost his memory (or most of it) and the feelings of betrayal have never left him. He also remembers Ivy and their intensity, but not the details of any of their encounters. Now he is back in Winter Garden. He has many secrets, though. One of them is that HE is the Marquess of Rye. Few are aware of it. He has also brought back Ivy to see if she and her brother were innocent or part of the plot. He has also brought in the Earl and Countess of Eastleigh from the last book to help him.

What follows is a search for the truth and the diamonds. There are characters galore, most of whom seem to have appeared in the past book. The star of the story, however, is the estate which is riddled with secret tunnels and rooms where smuggling occurred and where, it is hoped, the diamonds have been hidden. Ivy and Garrett find they must work together and of course, their attraction rises to the occasion. The mystery is convoluted at times and when finally solved, less than enthralling.

The beginning of the tale is filled with backstory and an attempt to capture the sense of hurt these two had suffered. Then there is the quest, which puts them in proximity, but never really captured this readerís imagination. And then finally the story picks up as they get close and engage in their hot seduction scenes, only to get interrupted with the mystery again.

A Notorious Proposition may be a better sequel than stand alone story, since much of the previous mystery seems to have been solved. I had hoped for more from Ashworth, but for me, this one is merely acceptable.

--Shirley Lyons

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