|I have never been a big Stephanie Laurens fan. Her latest production, straight out of the familiar mould, has not changed my opinion.
Christian Allardyce and Letitia Vaux were young lovers. When he joined the war effort, she promised to wait for his return. To his great disappointment, she didn't. She married a certain George Randall in what was said to be a love match. So when Letitia comes knocking on Christian's door some years later and asks for his help in exonerating her brother and finding her husband's real murderer, he is delighted at this opportunity for revenge.
Of course, Christian soon realizes that he is not only attracted to but also very much in love with Letitia. He learns that her marriage was a sham: she was all but forced into it to pay off her father's debts and to protect her siblings from Randall's machinations. Christian also discovers that he must share the blame for this situation: Letitia tried to contact him, but he was too involved in being a hero to attend to her. He is determined to make up for it now: away with all the plans for revenge and on with the plans for marriage — once he has found the murderer and convinced Letitia of what was meant to be.
Christian and Letitia are familiar Laurens characters: he is a virile and determined warrior-type who doesn't understand the meaning of no until, of course, he meets his match in an independent and strong-minded heroine. He has his task cut out for him trying to convince her that they do belong together after what she perceives as his betrayal. On the whole, their interaction comes off fairly well, even if Christian tends to rely on their physical attraction as his most persuasive weapon. I could have done with fewer steamy sex scenes, especially once they began to sound a little repetitive and read a little too much like empty filler. Then again, they are probably one of Laurens's strong selling points.
As for the mystery, well, let's just say readers who prefer more intricate plotting and more convincing investigations might want to abstain. On the whole, things are wrapped up a little too quickly.
The epilogue of the novel is devoted to one final member of the club. His book will be out next year. I rather doubt it will break the mould, but that probably won't stop it from becoming another bestseller. I, however, will not be buying it.