|Laurie Alice Eakes: The Widow's Secret|
Struck Books. ISBN 1-928670-12-1
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When socially reclusive marchioness Leah Brant meets the Earl of Glengowan, a.k.a. Neil Drummond, a passionate love ignites between them. Even so, Leah determines to move to London and enter the elite social circles of the capital. In spite of being the son of a Scottish earl who fought with Prince Charles against the British -- and hence extremely broke -- Neil is determined to love and court Leah.
Leah refuses to acknowledge this love, terrified that Neil will discover an ignominious secret. Ignoring Leah's requests to forget her, Neil continues to pursue the wealthy widow. In part, he seeks to assure her safety in the face of repeated attempts on Leah's life. But Neil doesn't deny he hopes to marry Leah's money and recover his ancestral lands.
Leah's fiery feminist character, Neil's honor and his ability to love regardless of Leah's secret makes The Widow's Secret a powerful read. Their reactions to each other's secrets and their hunt for Leah's enemy, refine and test their passion.
One minor failing was that although the opening established the date, I remained confused over the era in which the story was set. Eakes paid close attention to historical accuracy, but the facts needed a little more context for the general reader. In addition, incorrect usage of words, (tread instead of trod, you instead of your) and a character name change during a piece of dialog, indicates that further proofreading would have been beneficial.
Overall Eakes offers wonderful characterizations and enough mini plots to make Leah, Neil and their friends come to life. I found the The Widow's Secret hard to put down.
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