No man has ever wanted her for herself
When she arrives at Beresford Abbey, orphan Mary Wilding's hopes of
finding a place to belong are dashed when she meets Bane Beresford, the
enigmatic earl. He is as remote as the ghosts that supposedly haunt the
Abbey…and, like its crumbling walls, her dreams fall apart.
Occasionally she sees a different, more caring man behind the facade, so
is she foolish to long for a happy home…and a family? His proposal is
for a marriage of convenience, but his touch has awakened within her a
fervent and forbidden longing….
Good book. Bane has returned to the Abbey upon the death of his grandfather to inherit the title. He learns that while he has inherited the property the unknown Mary Wilding has inherited the money provided she marries within a year. If she doesn't the money goes to the Crown and if she dies he gets it. When strange accidents start happening to her Mary is sure that the Earl is behind them.
I really liked both Mary and Bane. Mary had been summoned to the Abbey to see the old Earl and be present for the reading of the will. He had paid for her schooling and she hoped that meant that she was a member of his family, having no one left of her own. She was stunned by the terms of the will. When she met Bane she was attracted to him but he was also someone her head said she should be frightened of. She was an independent, intelligent woman and wanted only to get on with her life. As she was stuck at the Abbey she saw more of Bane. There were times their attraction took over and other times that he seemed distrustful and angry at her. Throughout it all she suspected him of trying to kill her. There are times that she sees a caring man behind the walls, and glimpses hints of pain in his eyes. Those are things that make her think there is more to him than most people see. When he proposes marriage she can't believe he really wants it for anything other than the money. She has always felt like an outsider wherever she was and can't believe anyone would want her for herself. Throughout the book there is a definite war going on between Mary's head and her heart.
Bane has also felt like an outsider. His mother was accused of passing him off as a Beresford when most of the family believe she was having an affair. As a result he never received any caring attention from that side of the family. He was raised by his mother's family of coal miners and had to work hard to achieve his reputation. He feels things deeply but works hard to control his emotions as they have gotten him into trouble in the past. He is glad to inherit and thumb his nose at his so-called family, but not happy with the terms of the will. He doesn't understand Mary's role and therefore doesn't trust her. He is also strongly attracted to her but doesn't want to cave in to his grandfather's manipulations and marry her. As he is the hero I was quite sure he wasn't the one trying to kill her, but the evidence sure pointed that way. I really liked the way that he watched out for her even if he wasn't very good at showing her how he cared. His distrust caused him to make some wrong assumptions but he was able to admit it when he found out the truth. My biggest problem with the story was that we really didn't get much of Bane's point of view. I would have liked to know what he was thinking sometimes when he was dealing with her stubbornness or with his cousins and aunt.
The suspense of the attempts on Mary's life were well done and kept me turning the pages. I figured out the culprit pretty quickly, but still enjoyed the culmination of the story.
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