A unique legacy left them from beyond the grave in their father’s will sends Sir William Christie’s four adult children to the far reaches of the world to accomplish four separate tasks successfully in the time allotted before they can receive their inheritance. Each story in the series are Victorian age adventure romances in a way.
Alex is the oldest Christie child and a recent widower with a young baby son. For him, the challenge to become manager of his father’s cotton mill in Glasgow, Scotland in order to receive his one million dollar inheritance holds no appeal. He’d rather work quietly toward his goal for tenure and the professorship in astronomy at the university. But circumstances in the form of the horrid man who is his dead wife’s father change all that. Todd had bullied his daughter liking that she was under his thumb and never forgave Alex for rescuing her through marriage. Now he seeks to avenge himself on Alex by taking away his son. Todd is a wealthy man and able to bribe a judge to threaten court-ordered guardianship on the feeble grounds that Alex is not financially able to care for his son.
So off Alex moves with his son to Glasgow to take up Sir William’s challenge to make the mill turn a profit by the end of two years. When he arrives and is just settling in, he is confronted by the news that someone attempted to blow up his mill. The police and an overseer from another mill haul before him several union leaders who work at his mill as suspects. Alex only has eyes for one from the start for the beautiful, fiery Polly Gowan who refuses to tell him a thing while privately inflaming him with need.
Polly suspects her friend Tommy made good on his threat to resort to violence against the mill owners in retaliation for the way that the greedy owners have handled things in the past. She, like her father before her, advocates peaceful means of working for the betterment of their people. She knows that until the saboteur is brought forward that suspicion will fall on her and the other union leaders and the owners will use it as an excuse to break the union. She is hauled before the new mill owner the son of William Christie who had his humble beginnings amongst them. The man is formidable and determined while dangerous because of the visceral attraction she feels the instant she claps eyes on him. He is dressed like a gentleman, but his demeanor is hard and powerful- a man who will get what he wants.
Alex tries to persuade Polly that it is in their best interests to work together and discover who is behind trying to destroy the mill. For much of the time, they range between keeping each other at cross purposes and reluctantly working together at other times. The attraction they feel blooms to more, but it too is at cross purposes because their motives are opposing with him needing a profit to win the demands of the will and keep his son and she to work to better the conditions for her people and possibly protect an innocent man from becoming a scapegoat.
The situation escalates and intrigue abounds. Alex and Polly are like fire and oil brought together even while circumstances work to tear them apart.
The plot was full of drama and intrigue along with a pair of lovers with strong passionate cravings that they weren’t afraid to satisfy. The story had some really heart thumping moments and intense scenes. As the reader, I was privy to both characters thoughts and secrets and the story kept me on edge waiting for the inevitable moment when their secrets would come out and bite them.
I have to admit that I really didn’t buy into the guardianship issue being a real threat because, corrupt judge or not, the fact that Alex is a teacher at a university with a proper home and childcare staff makes it hard for me to believe that he would have lost his child as an unfit parent due to not being able to care for his child. Although, without that ploy, the story would have been lacking a truly hateful villain and this one I just loved to hate.
I was kind of on the fence whether I liked Polly during the beginning of her relationship with Alex. She seemed to torment him on purpose just to rile him. And considering that she’s a union leader who claims to be working toward a better working environment and wages for her people, I just found baiting the new mill owner for kicks a little counter productive. And then she found out quick that she was poking at a wounded bear and Alex retaliated which in her mind gave her more strikes against him.
Once she got passed this phase, I did enjoy how she helped Alex transform to a better man. It was hard to see their different agendas tearing them apart, but that was realistic in that Industrial age time period when workers and masters clashed.
Alex was an interesting multi-layered guy. He was so many things. He was the astronomy scholar, the gentle father, the lusty lover, the hard mill master, the warrior and also a tender in his loving. He needed a strong woman to push him and get him to pursue what really mattered.
This was definitely another good strong installment in the Christies Series and I look forward to more. So if you like your historical romances light on the history and smoking on the romance between strong characters then give these a try.
This is book two, but can definitely be read as a stand alone. It is preceded by Flawless and a prequel novella, A Little More Scandal.