Lady Anna was once considered the catch of the season. Now, three years after she fell for a man who tried to murder her cousin, she eases her guilt with charity work at an orphanage. Until her mother insists she do her duty.
Attending her cousin’s ball is irritating enough. It’s her one dance with Daniel, the unscrupulous Earl of Bridgerton, that rubs her nerves raw. And oddly leaves her senses on the edge of arousal.
The ton sees Daniel as a scoundrel. In truth, like centuries of Bridgertons before him, he leads a vast network of spies, protecting England from her worst enemies. His resolve never to marry means the one woman he’s always wanted—Lady Anna—is off limits. Especially now that his father’s murderer is coming after him as well.
At first, Anna wonders if Daniel was put on this earth just to annoy her. It’s only when she finds him injured that his mask begins to fall away—and so do the barriers between them. But their flaring passion puts her right where Daniel didn’t want her. Next on a killer’s list.
Thank you to Melissa Schroeder for supplying an ARC for this book. I've been bugging her for it since the last book was released. I so adored The Accidental Countess and Lessons in Seduction. I was so happy to finally read Anna and Daniel's story. It was a long damn wait. The danced around each other a whole lot in the first two books, and when I finished Lessons in Seduction, my first question was, "OMG, when do we get Daniel and Anna?!"
Anna has done a lot of growing up since book 2, and has resigned herself that she won't ever marry. She is working at and supporting an orphanage, much to the chagrin of her brother, Sebastian (hero of book 1). He has resigned himself to it, and instead of forbidding it, assigns servants to watch over her. So Anna has become quite independent, although it all stems from guilt over her part in her cousin Cecily's attack a few years back. (read Lessons in Seduction for that story)
Daniel was an interesting character to me. His family is a group of spies, including his mother and aunt. So these women are quite independent and self-sufficient. Yet, he becomes very chauvinistic when it comes to allowing Anna to do her charitable work in the orphanage, saying basically that women shouldn't be doing that sort of work, it's in a dangerous part of town, and that she should be dancing in a ballroom and looking pretty with no worries. (paraphrasing, but that's the gist of it). So I thought that was an interesting dichotomy. And wondered how he reconciled that within himself, although it came across as a gut reaction, Daniel just trying to protect Anna and keep her from harm.
Watching Daniel try to manage Anna was pretty amusing. He just couldn't fathom why she would want to go out and work in the orphanage rather than simply donate her money. She, in turn, insisted on maintaining her independence. He had to slowly come around, while at the same time trying to solve the mystery of who killed his father and was now threatening him. I loved watching Daniel and Anna try to deny their feelings, while at the same time acknowledging the crazy feelings swirling inside.
I really enjoyed the character of Joanna, Daniel's aunt by marriage, with whom everyone assumes he had an affair. In truth, they are very close, but just family. I thought it realistic how Anna didn't believe this at first but slowly came around to it, and just couldn't help liking Joanna.
I did guess the whodunnit very early on, but it didn't impede my enjoyment of the journey at all. I loved reading about Daniel's spy family (unlikely as it was), and revisiting the couples from the previous 2 books.
While I would say that this could be read as a stand-alone, it makes much more sense if you read it as a part of the series. And if you have read the series, I recommend a reread of at least book 2 before hopping into this one. I had some memory refreshing to do.
I'm hopeful that Joanna, Daniel's widowed aunt, will get her own story next.
4.5/5 stars on Goodreads