Lady Olivia Rathbourne’s husband was just found with this throat slit in their London garden.  She couldn’t be any happier.  For ten years, Olivia has lived under the rule of Lord Rathbourne, only allowed out in society when he needed a perfect wife to show off at his pleasure, like one of the rare artifacts in his vast museum-like collection.  Those ten years went by slowly, and during that time, Olivia learned to keep her distance and more importantly, not to fight against her cruel husband for fear of her safety.  Her list of things to do when she is free keeps her going when it seemed like all was lost.  With his death comes her longed for freedom, or so she thinks.  A twisted clause in her husband’s will leaves her with no choice but to accept the help of her one time betrothed.  The man at the top of her to do list.  The Earl of Wyldewood.  Her goal?  To bed her long lost suitor, and then move on with her life.

Ten years ago, Sterling-the now dull and stodgy Lord Wyldewood, received a visit by his beloved’s father, Lord Rawley, and informed that she no longer wished to see him, and was marrying Lord Rathbourne because of his vast wealth.  Angry, hurt and bitter, Sterling ignored the letters he received from Olivia and hadn’t thought of her since.  Fast forward ten years, and Lord Rawley was at his door again, pleading for his help and revealing the truth of his horrible secret and the forced marriage between Olivia and Lord Rathbourne.  Prompted by concern for Olivia’s safety, and guilt for never having read her letters, Sterling pays a visit to his former beloved, and learns that she has no desire to accept his help.  His refusal to help her when she needed it most is still fresh in her mind, and she dispatches him promptly.  Sterling is not easily cast aside, and after an attack on Olivia, and realization that her life was save by none other than the footmen he approved, she realizes maybe his help isn’t such a bad thing afterall.  Olivia realizes Sterling is the only one who can help her complete the cruel quest her dead husband requires before she comes into her rightful inheritance.  After some cajoling, the unlikely team of Olivia, Sterling, the Earl’s mother, Millicent, and Josiah, the solicitors representative, set off on an adventure to Egypt and Italy to retrieve three precious artifacts to complete Lord Ravencroft’s collection; pieces he has tried to for years to acquire.  Olivia has a short time to achieve her goals, and failure is most certainly not on her list.

The adventure brings Olivia and Sterling closer together, and farther apart at the mere turn of a page.  Their rollercoaster ride back and forth between love and bitterness could become tiresome, but with these characters it’s quite amusing.  They both realize they want no other, but have a hard time coming to terms with this revelation.  With a lustful Conte, a long-lost suitor of Millicent’s, and a flirtatious Comtesse, the novel’s secondary characters bring a charm to this lovely story of lost love and courage.  Olivia is an emotionally charged character that brings out the long-lost free-spirit that resides within Sterling.  This tale is a story of courage in the face of adversity, and a little humor along the way.  The epilogue leaves the story of the murder and attack on Olivia wide open for another novel, so this story is far from over.  Put this one on your list- it’s due in stores March 30, 2010.

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