The second in the series, this one focuses on Michael, Viscount Ellersleigh--who we met in the first book--and a woman named Abigail Barrows.
The story begins as Michael arrives at the crumbling estate he won in a game of Faro. Abigail, cousin of the man that Michael won the estate from, is in residence. She removes herself to the home of her step-sister Lavinia and her husband Rupert. Rupert and Lavinia lead a rather debauched lifestyle, and when Michael is invited to a party at their estate, he accepts so that he can see how Abigail is faring. Trying to evade Lavinia's attentions, Michael ends up outside where he spies Abigail hiding on a balcony, similarly evading the gross and lecherous Rupert. While the two are together, Abigail's cousin, Lord Allerton, is discovered dead, and suspicion too quickly falls on Michael. When Abigail provides Michael with an alibi that, in the process, also thoroughly compromises her, the two must get married. (Y'all know how much I like that trope, right?)
The two, like the couple in the first book, are pretty much attracted to each other right away, and while I'm not a huge, huge fan of insta-lust, with the first two books in this series, it hasn't much bothered me, either. I really enjoyed watching the two fall in love, and for me, their sexual attraction/relationship complimented, not hindered it. Plus, this author writes good sexy times, so there's that too. Heh.
Oh, and there is a lot of sex in this book. Like a lot. And it's plenty steamy. Just putting that out there for those who might wish to avoid such things. ;)
There's also a benevolent ghost, cult activity, missing girls, and murdered young men. To say more than that would be impossible for me to do without spoiling it, but it is quite an adventure.
I do want to take a moment again to commend this author for writing against trope. There's a scene in the book where Michael and Abigail are invited again to a party at Lavinia and Rupert's, which they agree to go to in order to search the house. When they get there, they realize that Lavinia has populated the party with a number of Michael's former lovers. His most recent paramour, Caroline, Lady Westerbrooke is one of the guests, and while I won't say what happened, the author had a prime opportunity to go the 'spurned lover looking for payback' route, and she DIDN'T! I actually really enjoyed what little bit we got to see of Caroline, and hope she has a book of her own someday.
As like the first couple in the first book, the author also avoided the dreaded Big Misunderstanding. This couple communicated. They talked to each other. Yes, they argued, yes, Michael tried to get high handed with Abigail a time or two out of fear, but boy did she ever get right back in his face. She demanded to be a part of what was going on, and gave solid arguments as to why she should be allowed to. And he agreed. It was a joy to read. And it just goes to show that you can still have conflict between a couple without having to manufacture ridiculous reasons to tear them apart. The 'Big Misunderstanding' is my absolute least favorite trope. I loathe it. So. Much. I always get so frustrated when it rears its head in a book because if the people involved would just TALK to each other, there'd be no issue.
I'm getting off track. Abigail, like Emme in the first book, is a smart lady. Even when she is furious with Michael, she never makes TSTL decisions, and any danger she faces in the book are due to the actions of others and not any foolish choices she made in haste or anger.
Sidenote: I did notice quite a bit more typos and formatting issues in this book than the first. It wasn't enough to bother me much, but it did take me out of the story a time or two when I'd have to go back and reread a sentence to grasp what was being said.
Cannot wait to read the next in the series!