Phillipa has been concerned for her fiancee, who has been missing for seven months. He left right before they were to be married claiming he had to leave on urgent business but has yet to return, so worried for his safety, she needs to find him. So her grandfather hires a man he feels he can trust to do the job; Maxwell, Lord Montrose. At first Maxwell seems cool and professional to Phillipa with no hint of emotion and no sympathy in any way. She is determined to go with him in search of her fiancee, seeing as how she is the only one to recognize him. Maxwell reluctantly agrees, Maxwell has always been in control and doesn't let anything or anyone ruffle his feathers, but there is always a first time for everything, because Phillipa stirs him up and before he knows it they are traveling from all over England to France in search of her errant fiancee, but a love kindles between them, one that refuses to be quenched.
Over the years I have grown to love Edith Layton, and some of her books are my top favorite historicals, so when I saw this one on the shelf, I had to pick it up right? I didn't instantly make me want to read it, but because I have enjoyed this author in the past, I felt I needed to try this one out, unfortunately it wasn't what I expected or even hoped for. In fact it was a bit of a disappointment and I found myself forcing myself to read through it. The beginning wasn't too hard to get into but by the time I got to the middle, I was forcing myself through the story. (which is the worst thing ever, when its a chore to read instead of a pleasure). So the last half I skimmed a bit, I was tempted to put it down, but I really wanted to know what happens in the end, so I found myself sticking with a story I wasn't enjoying in any way.
Now lets talk about the story and what I liked and didn't like so much. We start with seeing Maxwell as a boy, and seeing what made him into the man he is in the story. Maxwell's father was married three times, but in a drunked rant, claimed he cared little for Maxwell and would just as soon see him dead. So Maxwell endeared the help of a servant who helped him into being a spy for England. Maxwell has a very tough exterior and doesn't let anyone get to him. Phillipa is desperate to find out what has happened to her fiancee. She has lived in the country all her life, and has been raised by her grandparents, who doted and spoiled her, but has made her feel isolated and she yearns to travel and make something of herself. The story continues with Maxwell taking Phillipa and her grandmother with him on the search for Phillipa's fiancee. Now the grandmother, has been cooped up in the countryside far too long, and seeks adventure and glamour and attention. She is a bit outrageous for a older lady, with no decorum at all, but somehow convinces everyone around her to let her do what she wants. The story wasn't as strong as you would hope for, it has inconsistancies and didn't flow smoothly, seemed a bit choppy at times. Not what you would expect from Layton.
The characters weren't the type to fully reach out to reader in any way. Not that they were bad characters, they were probably the best part of the story. However I just couldn't feel anything about them jump out at me. Maxwell has the type of outward appearance that makes it seem like he is the weak and foppish type, but beneath it all he is like steel in his resolve to serve his country. Then we have Phillipa, who I felt was the most likeable character, even if she has not much backbone except when it comes to finding her fiancee. I felt she could have had more backbone, yet there was something about this character that I found to be endearing. She had some qualities that made for a strong heroine but she just didn't quite do it for me. I definitely had a hard time seeing these two connect in any real way.
Overall it seemed to be the "not quite there" type of story. I was very disappointed in this one, especially since there are a few of her books that have been remarkable reads. From the first chapter I had a hard time getting into the story, it just didn't do it for me. I felt no real connection to the story or the characters and felt like I had to force myself to continue to read it. I really wanted to find out what happened in the end, which is the main reason why I stuck with it, hoping it would get better the more I stayed with it, but it continued to be the same and I couldn't help but find it a barely passable story. Not one I would recommend but I would still read this author, since I have enjoyed her other books.