A woman of unexpected passion
England 1663: The sexual games at the Restoration Court of King Charles have turned Marcus, Viscount Marlbrooke, into a cynic. While he doesn't believe that love lies within matrimony, he does need to secure his claim to Winteringham Priory.
Marriage to the spirited Puritan Katherine Harley is the key and, given his unexpected response to her, perhaps their marriage needn't be as bleak as he fears. Because, beneath her solemn exterior, he senses a bride of surprising passion.
When I realised that this book was set during the reign of Charles II (the Restoration) I was quite pleased. After all it was an unusual time setting. On reading the book, that was not the only element. There was also, witchcraft, ghosts, echoes of the wars of the mid 1600s, family betrayals, a duel just as the highlights!.
The hero, Marcus, Viscount Marlbrooke is anxious to marry Katherine Harley to secure his ownership of Winteringham Priory. Originally the priory was the home of the Harleys, until they fought on the wrong side of the the Civil War and had their land taken off of them. The land was given to Marcus' family, and due to his friendship with Charles II he has been allowed to keep it when Charles is instated to the thrown. The only thing left to do is to get permanent ownership transferred to him, and the only thing that can stop that is if the true heir to Winteringham Priory makes a claim. Given that the will of Katherine's father, advising who the true heir is, has never been found, and is rumoured to have been hidden within the Priory itself, the race is on between several possible heirs to find the will and to state their claim.
To complicate matters, Katherine believes herself to be in love with her cousin Richard, and yet she is basically given no option by her uncle but to marry Marcus when he offers for her. She is fleeing to her strange aunt's home to try and get some answers when she has an accident and as a result has amnesia. Marcus is the one who finds her, and not recognising her as his fiancee, takes her into his home, christens her Viola, and she gets to know both Marcus, his mother and her grumpy maid, becoming an integral part of the family. Once her true identity is revealed then things become a little more complicated.
The fact that Kate is a Puritan really forms no real part of the plot, other than to explain why she was overwhelmed by the glamour of the Restoration court when they visited London. Of course, the fact that she was a Puritan was one of the things that she could not remember when suffering from amnesia! The occasional question about is it wrong to be enjoying this or to feel pleasure is about the strength of the puritan part.
The fact that the heroine had two names during the novel became quite annoying after a while. When she had amnesia, they decided to call Katherine Viola. Once she knew who she was again then they would sometimes still call her Viola and sometimes Kate. The other thing that I actually didn't like was when Marcus called her little one....it's one endearment that I find really difficult to deal with between two adults. Yes, she was supposed to be extremely petite and he well built, but please don't call her little one. Totally squicky!
Other than that, I did like Marcus. He had a fairly strong sense of honour. I did feel as though maybe he fell too hard, too quickly for Viola, but I guess he's not the only romance hero ever to have been guilty of that! There was one moment between Marcus and Katherine/Viola where I wondered how far the author was going to take things but that possible confrontation was stepped back from before it went too far.
In the end I would classify this as an okay read. It didn't help that the book was overlong, and there were probably too many plot lines that the author was trying to resolve quite quickly at the end, adding unnecessary drama in my opinion.
This was actually the other book that was in the Quills book along with The Reputable Rake by Dianne Gaston.