A smuggling ring in Cornwall and a war hero with entrepreneurial dreams add some novelty to this Regency romance.
Leigh (From Duke Till Dawn, 2017, etc.) returns to the trope of a lying heroine with a heart of gold that she employed in the first novel in her London Underground series. Tamsyn Pearce, the impoverished orphan daughter of minor gentry, meets Kit Ellingsworth, the new Earl of Blakemere, at a London ball where they are both seeking a marriage of convenience: she needs a husband's money to buy a home base for her smuggling operation, which is keeping her entire Cornish village afloat; Kit is widely known to be bound by a will that requires matrimony before the awarding of a substantial inheritance. Their instant attraction is a surprise bonus. A quick wedding seems like the best option, but a new clause in the will is revealed after the ceremony—one that hands control of the promised funds to Tamsyn. The unexpected twist, followed by Kit’s bungling attempt to seduce Tamsyn into financing a cherished venture, threatens the bond that had begun to override their initial mercenary intent. There is also the small matter of Tamsyn’s criminal activity, which she is determined to continue and keep a secret from Kit—even when using his house to store goods. The logical consequence of this choice can be predicted well in advance, like the basement scene in a slasher movie. The novel does a credible job of showing the couple's growing love, though mostly in scenes of Kit striving to make his countess happy, and also fleshes out some of the minor characters. But the pacing is uneven; a scene in a sex club, for example, is unexciting, more like a clumsy detour into a 1970s key party orgy.
Love excuses bad ethics in this implausible tale of an intrepid baron’s daughter who lies her way to a happy ending. For fans of risk-taking heroines and saved-by-the-bell conclusions.