When Abigail Harewood—sexually innocent yet effervescently determined to live life to the fullest—decides to take a lover, she sets her sights on notorious rake the Duke of Wallingford, who has just resolved on a year of chastity and sober living.
Abigail flees London with her sister and cousin for a year in Italy and decides it's a perfect opportunity to explore sensual pleasure. Since she has sworn to never marry yet wants to experience a full, vibrant life, she feels the need to check this goal off her Edwardian checklist. She meets the Duke of Wallingford in an inn and considers him a prime candidate, and when, through a contractual misunderstanding, it turns out that her party and his (consisting of his brother and their illegitimate uncle) are sharing the same Tuscan castle, she sets out to seduce him. However, Wallingford has sworn off his rakish ways, and the road to Abigail’s happiness is further hindered by an irritating wager the two sets of relatives make that heightens the stakes if he fails. And then there are the mysterious servants that must be more than they seem, the enchanting setting of an Italian castle and Abigail’s eerie sense that there is more magic afoot than Wallingford’s spellbinding presence. The third of a debut trilogy loosely based on Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost with a distinct nod to the great operatic works of Giuseppe Verdi, this is a mesmerizing, enthralling romance that starts out with a sparkling, irrepressible heroine and a brooding, damaged hero and only gets better and better page by page.
Bright, witty dialogue and superb characterization are the backbones of a fun, intricate historical storyline, and you may at turns laugh out loud and wipe your eyes at this couple’s entertaining, tender path to their happily ever after.