Can the love of an honorable man save her from the memory of a desolate marriage?
From the battlefield of Waterloo to the drawing rooms of Brantstone Hall, Sebastian Alder’s elevation from penniless army captain to Viscount Somerton is the stuff of dreams. But the cold reality of an inherited estate in wretched condition, and the suspicious circumstances surrounding his cousin’s death, provide Sebastian with no time for dreams — only a mystery to solve and a murderer to bring to justice. Isabel, widow of the late Lord Somerton, is desperate to bury the memory of her unhappy marriage by founding the charity school she has always dreamed of. Except, her dreams are soon shattered from beyond the grave when she is not only left penniless, but once more bound to the whims of a Somerton. But this Somerton is unlike any man she has met. Can the love of an honorable man heal her broken heart or will suspicion tear them apart?
Sebastian plunged his arms into the trough with a sharp exclamation at the water’s temperature. He picked up the soap and began scrubbing vigorously. Standing to one side, holding his shirt and coat, Isabel found her eyes fixed on his broad shoulders. His muscles rippled beneath the brown skin and once again her heartbeat quickened. She took a deep steadying breath.
As the sky lightened she could see that there were other scars marring the brown skin.
‘You seem remarkably careless of your life, Lord Somerton.’
He glanced at a long, white scar that ran down his bicep. ‘I’ve been a soldier a long time, Isabel.’
A flush of pleasure rose to her cheeks at this invitation to familiarity. Being alone with a half-naked man in the early hours of the morning did not call for formality, neither did it reflect well on her reputation. She glanced around the stable yard but they were quite alone.
He straightened and began towelling off. The grey light of the early dawn flattened the planes of his face, leeching the colour from his skin and eyes, but she could see the lift of humour curling the corners of his mouth as he caught her watching him and the heat rose to her face as she thrust his shirt at him.
He pulled it over his head and took the coat from her, his eyes not leaving her face. As he buttoned the coat he tilted his head to one side.
‘I’ve been trying to work out what is different about you this morning. It’s your hair.’
He reached out and touched the loosely tied, heavy braid that hung over her shoulder. His finger brushed her cheek, leaving a burning trail across her cool skin.
‘What about my hair?’ Isabel stuttered.
‘I like the way you have bits of it around your face,’ he withdrew his hand and looked away. ‘Now I am being personal.’
Given his previous state of undress and the fact they were alone together, a personal remark seemed the least of her concerns.
‘I’ll forgive you this once.’ She took a step back from him. ‘I must be getting back to the house.’
Before someone sees us together like this.
Sebastian looked at the sky. ‘It’s going to be another lovely day. I think I’ll go for a walk.’
Isabel lingered in the gateway to the stable, watching him stride away from her into the early morning mist. He moved with purpose and strength and she felt sure, had she been a soldier, she would have willingly followed where he led.
Publisher and Release Date: Escape Publishing, May 2014
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Susan
A sweet love story, Lord Somerton’s Heir takes its cues from Cinderella, but with a fairytale geared towards the hero’s perspective. Audiences meet Sebastian Adler in the first chapter, a captain of the British Army who is recuperating from injuries after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. Ms Stuart sets up the scene efficiently. Lord Somerton’s widow, Isabel. comes to Sebastian’s bedside to inform him that he is the heir to the Somerton estate, although Sebastian had no idea of the – rather remote – connection. But it’s the dream of going from poverty-line to being given a comfortable lifestyle that interests the reader.
Sebastian’s relation to the late Anthony Somerton isn’t the only connection that is skewed. At Brantstone Hall, the Somerton estate, there are distant cousins of Anthony’s who have made themselves permanent residents, Fred and Fannie Lynch. Though amiable, Stuart puts doubts in the reader’s mind about the pair, feeding suspicions that they may have had something to do with the riding accident that broke Anthony’s neck and killed him. The author keeps the story moving, providing background information about Sebastian and Isabel in digestible portions and incrementally supplying clues as to who was behind Anthony’s fall to his death.
Sebastian and Isabel are sympathetic characters who slip into the reader’s heart. Their love story is sincere and their honor-bound nature inspires the same from audiences. Lord Somerton’s Heir is a feel good story with the heroine offering the hero the opportunity to become independently wealthy.
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About the Author
Alison Stuart is an award winning Australian writer of cross genre historicals with heart. Whether duelling with dashing cavaliers or wayward ghosts, her books provide a reader with a meaty plot and characters who have to strive against adversity, always with the promise of happiness together. Alison is a lapsed lawyer who has worked in the military and fire service, which may explain a predisposition to soldier heroes. She lives with her own personal hero and two needy cats and likes nothing more than a stiff gin and tonic and a walk along the sea front of her home town. She loves to hear from her readers and can be found at her website, blog,Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.