Set in Little Longstone, Kent. The year is 1820. Thirty-two-year-old Genevieve Ralston has everyone in her small town believing she is a widow. Therefore, no one snubbed her for having a lover. For over a decade she was the mistress of Richard, the Earl of Ridgemoor. Though only his mistress, Genevieve thought Richard loved her as much as she did him. Then came the horrible moment, one year ago, when Richard learned of her arthritis. Richard told Genevieve that he could not stand the thought of her hands, with swollen joints, touching him. He broke off their affair. Richard did not even tell Genevieve in person that it was over between them. He sent the news in a letter. So when Genevieve received an alabaster puzzle box from Richard with a note for her to safeguard it until he arrived to retrieve it, she did not hesitate to solve the puzzle and snoop to find out what the box contained. Believing Richard may send someone else to collect the box, Genevieve hid the paper she had found within the box. If Richard wanted it back, he would have to come in person and face her. If nothing else, she deserved that.
Simon Cooperstone, Viscount Kilburn, had been a spy for the Crown for eight years. As the Earl of Ridgemoor was dying, he told Simon that his killer's name and important evidence could be found within the alabaster puzzle box he sent to Genevieve. Though his superiors knew him well, all evidence pointed at Simon as Richard's murderer. Given a fortnight to clear his name, Simon rented the home next to Genevieve and began to pass himself off as a simple steward on vacation.
With no way of knowing if Genevieve had a hand in Richard's death, Simon decided to seduce the former mistress and search her home for the box. He quickly learned there were several problems with that plan though. Genevieve refused to even touch anyone. She constantly wore gloves to make sure of it. In addition, the lovely lady refused to ever become close to a man again. Then there was the problem of her only servant, Baxter. The giant bald manservant overflowed in bulk and muscles. It was obvious that Genevieve and Baxter have long known each other. Baxter made sure Simon knew that he would be keeping an eye on him and gladly rip Simon into tiny pieces should he ever upset Genevieve.
***** FIVE STARS! Jacquie D'Alessandro doesn't just pen a barren road that eventually leads to a happily-ever-after ending. She paves a highway with several NON-rest stops of action and adventure. There is much more going on than I mention in my synopsis. More than once I had to remind myself to breathe! But it is more than simply all the danger and intrigue jammed into this single story that kept me devouring each page. It is also due to the steamy love scenes. Harlequin titled the books of this line "BLAZE" for a reason! This is a wonderful way to warm up on a chilly night. *****
Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.