It’s been awhile since I read a book by Ms Laurens, after having plowed through the Cynster series and many of it’s related books a few years ago. She’s written many books, and employs a lot of similar plots and characters, much like Nora Roberts does. There’s always the alpha male hero and the spirited heroine and quite a lot of steamy sex.
This book is the first in the Bastion Club series, which introduces a group of seven friends who have returned from serving their time in the war as secret spies. They meet up again to catch up on things, and discover they are all in a similar situation – each of them has unexpectedly inherited a title through deaths in the family (death being such a plot device in historical romance either fortuitously or badly as the case may be), and each of them are expected to wed and procreate as soon as possible. In the meantime, they need a place to meet and visit quietly, away from the usual clubs. To this end, Tristan Wemyss, Earl of Trentham, sets out to find them a house they can renovate to suit their needs.
As he begins to oversee the renovation of the house, he notices the woman next door outside in the garden and his interest is immediately piqued. He is surprised when she confronts him as he leaves the house one day, and inquires as to what his plans for the house are. Miss Lenora Carling is quite firmly on the shelf, living with her brother and elderly uncle, both of whom are scholars more interested in their books than running the household. Leonora has become used to running things as she sees fit; unfortunately there have been several attempts to buy their home and some unpleasant encounters with a stranger have left her on edge. She fears that whatever is going on in the house next door is part of this problem. Tristan is quick to assure her that he and his friends are not involved in anything nefarious and it isn’t long before he offers his assistance to find out who is causing problems for her.
Tristan is the typical alpha male hero – he’s strong, intelligent, somewhat stubborn and rather high-handed, but he’s able to recognize that Leonora is the woman he needs in his life. A condition of his inheritance is that he has to marry within a year or forfeit everything that isn’t entailed and he has many elderly female relatives to support He doesn’t mention this little detail to Leonora however, so this causes some drama between them for awhile. Especially since Leonora doesn’t really want to marry anyway, with good reason, as we find out.
There’s lot of intimate encounters, and the mystery plot weaves in and out until it reaches it’s conclusion but it was really not the focus of the book. I liked it well enough, but I’m not in a hurry to pick up the next book in the series.