The version that I read was released here as a Harlequin Historical in Australia earlier this year. I can't tell you how long it is since I read any Harlequin books.
A beautiful recluse draped in dark secrets
Lady Helena Rathford was still deemed a plum matrimonial prize, one that adventurous Adam Mannion was determined to pluck. He'd wed her, bed her, then hie to London, his prospects secure. But somehow in the wild north country that spawned her, Helena became his whole world - now and forever...!
The walls of her family estate kept her safe, or so Helena thought. But it has been more entombment then embrace...for Adam Mannion - a rogue with an open heart - made her see she must shake off the shadows of the past to hold on to a future.
This book opens with Adam Mannion arriving at Rathford manor. Adam is a commoner who has been brought up with all of the good things in life, but has suddenly found that he doesn't have the income to support his lifestyle. So what should any good man about town do? Well, he rushes off to Northumberland to marry the mysterious Sleeping Beauty of Northumberland - supposedly a very beautiful, and rich, young woman who has been hidden away for the last five years for reasons that nobody knows.
When Helena's father agrees to the match and to the financial settlement, and specifies that the condition of the agreement are that he must spend the next two months at Rathford Manor, and he must bed Helena, Adam isn't overly thrilled but he is willing to go through with.
What follows is a strange story of secrets revealed, cruel manipulation of a young lady who thinks she is going mad, and an eventual bond between two people who were seemingly not attracted to each other early on.
If there is one thing that I didn't get about this book, and it was that much was made of the thinness of the heroine, with even the hero calling her scrawny, and yet much was then made of how attractive she was. My question is which way was it - she was either too scrawny to be attractive or attractive and not too scrawny? She is also very emotionally fragile, which is explained by the events from her past, which is fine, but she is also being manipulated by a very unsavoury secondary character. With her father saying that this character was essential to the home it was no wonder that Helena was as fragile as she was.
Adam was more than what he seemed as well. It turns out that he wasn't such a gambler as we were led to believe. He inherited a little money, and a lot of debt and he had a plan to reverse those fortunes, but he needed something to kick start his plan. However, having done that, he has made himself a target of the same person that is targetting Helena.
I guess that for me this story was kind of middle of the road in terms of the romance and the suspense aspect as well so my grading reflects this as well.