Never having read any of this author’s previous works, I had no idea what to expect when I opened this book. However, the back blurb indicated the heroine was disguising her identity to defraud a wealthy family. This was not an inspiring summation of the story. Thankfully, although the back blurb was correct in some instances, it did not accurately reflect how good this book actually was.
Sabrina Murphy has just suffered the death of her beloved father. Daniel Murphy was considered a con man and a gambler, but he was everything to his daughter. His death has left Sabrina at the mercy of a repulsive stepbrother and an uncaring stepmother. At the funeral, Daniel’s old friend Quinn offers Sabrina a chance for a new life, if she’ll break a few laws. It is an offer she tries to refuse, but circumstances make the choice for her. Sabrina agrees to take the place of long-lost heiress, Prudence Winthrope. The real Prudence was believed to have been lost in a fire when she was a child, however, no one can prove her death. Prudence’s relatives, the wealthy Trevelyans of Cornwall, remain hopeful that Prudence survived the fire, somehow. All except one.
Lord Edward Blake, Earl of Trevelyan, has dealt with many women over the years claiming to be his distant cousin, Prudence. After a few days, most of their stories could be proven false. However, the strain has taken a toll on his grandmother, the dowager countess. Her health is weakening and Trevelyan fears that she cannot withstand having her hopes dashed yet another time. When Sabrina arrives claiming to be Prudence, Trevelyan is determined to unmask her, and quickly.
Sabrina knows she is in trouble when upon first arriving in Cornwall, she falls in love with the ruggedness of the land. The Trevelyan family is also not what she expected, as her expectations are based on Quinn’s estimation of them. She is also immediately attracted to the Earl, who is desperately trying to ferret out her deception. Sabrina knows they have no future, especially since Trevelyan is nursing a grudge against his previous wife.
This story line could have easily fallen into triteness, because there is nothing truly original in the underlying components. However the author does a wonderful job of sharing Sabrina’s and Trevelyan’s struggles as they fall in love. A few extremely well written scenes move the reader directly into the midst of their relationship. This reviewer found herself on the edge of the seat hoping Sabrina would make the “correct” choices. There are many secrets in this story, and although there are hints given, the answers are not transparent to the reader. There is also a decent secondary romance and strong secondary characters.
Normally, I choose not to focus on the “deflowering the virgin” love scene in my reviews, but will in this case because the author used an interesting background for this scene to take place. Although there are not many love scenes in this book, those that are there are very well-written, and this first one is simply wonderful.
There were, however a couple of problems with the story. The hero has a serious complex over his distrust of women, and at one point in the story he was unfairly cruel to the heroine. Then there was also the implausibility of the story line. It is hard to imagine that anyone could pull off the acting job Sabrina did without slipping up at some point, especially someone who has never performed con jobs for nefarious purposes. As a result, sometimes her character felt contrived.
In the author’s note it states that Ruth Owen has written Regency Romances and this is her first historical novel. If this is an example of her historical writing ability, I’ll be waiting for her future works. Try this one, you just may like it. And you can ask yourself, as I did, “Is she going to actually steal that necklace or not?”