Lady Isobel Maitland is trapped in a life that she can not stand. She is basically being held hostage by her late husbands mother and brother, as his will stated that they would be in charge of their son and her fortune. Isobel is forced to stay in her widow weeds far longer than normal and is not allowed to cause any scandal, for fear that her harlot blood from her mother will ruin the good name of the family and damage her son the future Earl. But one night at a masked ball, where her in-laws did not attend, she lets down her guard for a moment of passion with the scandalous Marquess of Blackwood, Phineas Archer (every time I saw the name Phineas all I could think of was Phineas and Ferb, lol).
Blackwood has his own agenda for attending the ball but has no problem being swayed by the lovely 'Yasmina' and when she departs with out telling him her true name, she is all she can think about. Imagine Isobels surprise when Blackwood turns out to be the brother of her new friend and then her hurt and anger as he does not even recognize her or bother to give her a second glance. As Blackwoods mystery he is investigating, as he is an undercover spy, unravels clues start to point to the mysterious Yasmina as being involved possibly in the plot to distract him. When Blackwood finally realizes who exactly his mystery woman is he is stunned! How can this dowdy lady be such a passionate, warm women away from everyone but him? His investigation continues and Isobel is drawn deeper and deeper in as it becomes clear who has been pulling the strings of her life and many others.
This is Lecia Cornwalls debut novel and I very much enjoyed it. Her writing was excellent and I just wanted to keep turning the pages to find out if my suspicions were correct (some were some were not). Yes, everything was wrapped up nice and neat at the end. Yes, this plot has been used quite a bit before and isn't overly fresh this time around. Yes, the romance between Isobel and Blackwood didn't seem too real to me..more lust like. Yes, I wanted to smack some of the secondary characters and even Isobel and Blackwood at times but his family does add a nice sense of evenness. But even with all that, to me, this was still a great debut novel and I look forward to more from Ms Cornwall! 3 1/2 stars