Rating: 3 stars
Date begun: April 22nd, 2012
Date finished: April 24th, 2012
This is the second book in Tessa Dare's Stud Club trilogy, and although it works fine on its own, the tertiary plot of the book runs through the entire trilogy, and as a result, you may want to read the books in sequence.
Rhys St. Maur, recently Lord Ashworth, has a death wish, but fate has yet to see fit to grant it. He survived his abusive father, and the fire that burned down his childhood home. He survived countless beatings and fights that he picked over the years, and he's now a decorated war hero, having survived on the battlefields of Europe during the Napoleonic wars. He returns to his estate in Devonshire, but quickly realises that not only doesn't the people on the estate want him there, they're openly hostile towards him and his family, having been left to fend for themselves since the old Earl died.
Meredith "Merry" Maddox is the widow of the local innkeeper, and she dreams of running the most successful coaching inn in Devonshire. Daughter of the stable master, she watched Rhys' abuse as a teenager, and always loved him from afar. So when he shows up on her doorstep, and quickly declares that he's going to marry her, because she needs someone to take care of her, she's shocked, to say the least. While he's bitter and battle scarred, Meredith finds Rhys as attractive, if not more so, than ever, but she's as unconvinced of him staying put in the village as everyone else. She'd be willing to commit to a love affair, but can't stand the thought of having her heart broken when he inevitably leaves again.
Rhys and Merry begin a battle of wills, where she's intent on seducing him, and he's determined to resist until he gets her to agree to marriage. Rhys also has to prove himself the villagers, and figure out who wants him gone badly enough to try to kill him.
There aren't as many story lines cluttering up the narrative as there was in One Dance with a Duke, but the central romance also didn't grab me as much. Still, a quick and frothy read.