William “Liam” Devaliant, the fifth Earl of Lockwood, is overpowered and kidnapped on his wedding night in Scotland, taken south and chained onto a prison hulk on its way to Australia. No one believes his mad story about being an earl, or if they do, they don’t care. Four years later, he’s back in London, a very changed man, determined to enact his revenge on the man behind the plot to have him abducted, his own cousin. All the male retainers in his household are basically former convicts who survived along with them. In the eight months since his return to London, he’s become famous for his lavish entertainments. Lockwood had not expected the arrival from Scotland of his headstrong and very angry wife, who believes he abandoned her all those years ago and has now come back mainly to spend her money irresponsibly and recklessly.
Anna Winslow, Countess of Forth and a Scottish heiress in her own right, wasn’t planning on falling for the handsome, yet penniless Earl of Lockwood, yet his charm and easygoing nature was irresistible to her. Orphaned at a young age, and passed around her many relatives, Anna became used to taking care of herself. While she suggested a marriage of convenience with Lockwood (she needed a husband to get ownership of an island, he needed money for his estates), she’d started believing that he cared for her as she had begun to do for him. She certainly didn’t expect him to abscond with a large sum of money before they’d even had a chance to consummate the marriage. When news greets her that her husband’s been in London for the past eight months, spending her money on all manner of extravagances, she shows up to confront him.
The happy and carefree man she met four years ago is gone. The current Lockwood, while he tries to feign nonchalance is clearly also trying to get Anna to return to Scotland as quickly as possible, and she can tell there’s a lot of rage just under the surface of his carefully controlled temper. When Lockwood is suddenly taken ill, possibly poisoned, Anna finally discovers why her husband disappeared and begins to learn the extent to his scars, both physically and emotionally. She comes to understand just how wrong she’s been in her anger against him and how much time has been stolen from both of them, and wants vengeance against the man who wronged them just as much as her husband does. She’s also determined to prove to her husband that while he’s been through hell while he was away, his scars don’t make him any less of a man, rather the opposite. She loves her husband and will fight for her marriage, no matter what it takes.
Full review on my blog.