Rating: 3 stars
Date begun: March 26th, 2012
Date finished: March 29th, 2012
Miss Emma Fairbourne is determined to continue running her father's prosperous auction house after he dies. A few years back, a ship with her only brother on it sank, but Emma's father always assured her that he was still alive somewhere, and she's determined that the auction house will be there for him when he returns. Of course, as a woman, she can't run it openly, but she schemes with her wealthy friend, and with a trusty employee as a front man, she is sure that she will be able to assure the various collectors and customers of the auction house.
However, Emma is unaware that her father had a silent partner. Darius Alfreton, the arrogant Earl of Southwaite. Southwaite shows up to assist her in the sale of the auction house, sure that a grieving gentlewoman will be no match for his powers of persuasion. Instead, he ends every meeting confused and flummoxed by Miss Fairbourne, and finds himself agreeing to let her arrange a final, spectacular auction. His suspects that the auction house was used to occasionally sell items for less than respectable contributors, and that Emma's father may have died doing something illegal. As there is clearly an attraction between them, he decides to try a more sensual approach to convincing her to sell.
This novel is set during the French revolution, when the English were still unsure of whether the French might actually invade. Southwaite and his friends are patrolling the coast, trying to intercept French spies, and there is suspicion that the auction house was used to sell smuggled goods from France, among other things. Emma is forced into a difficult situation by the same men who had a hold over her father, and as she gets more involved with Southwaite, gets more and more distressed.
The book was well written, but just didn't wow me or entertain me as much as some of Hunter's earlier romances. Based on this one, I doubt I'll be checking out any more in her coming series.