LOVE IS ALWAYS A WILD RIDE.
A writer for the Ladies Gazette, Miss Ophelia Dauntry’s passion is her pen. So when she sees a fellow writer kidnapped before her eyes—and the trail of evidence leads to the Lords of Anarchy—Ophelia vows to find her friend and take down the notorious London driving club in her column. But before she can argue her case, she needs the inside scoop from its newest leader: Piers Hamilton, the Duke of Trent.
Headstrong, handsome Trent joined the Lords of Anarchy after a decade in the British Army. He’s made it his business to tame the misbehavior within the driving club—and the infuriatingly attractive Ophelia is only getting in his way. The deeper she digs into the case, the more she puts her own life at risk. Can Trent convince Ophelia to trust him to seek justice…and find protection, and passion, in his arms?
Don't miss the last book in Manda Collins' gripping Lords of Anarchy trilogy, Good Dukes Wear Black!
About the Author
Manda Collins grew up on a combination of Nancy Drew books and Jane Austen novels, and her own brand of Regency romantic suspense is the result. An academic librarian by day, she investigates the mysteries of undergraduate research at her alma mater, and holds advanced degrees in English Lit and Librarianship. Her debut novel, How to Dance with a Duke spent five weeks on the Nielsen Bookscan Romance Top 100 list, was nominated for an RT Reviewer's Choice Award for best debut historical romance, and finaled in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence contest. Both How to Entice an Earl and Why Dukes Say I Do were selected for inclusion in Eloisa James's Reading Romance column. Her latest book, Why Earls Fall in Love, a February 2014 release, was called "sparkling romance" by Publishers Weekly and is set in Bath, England, one of her favorite cities in the world.
Read an Excerpt
Good Dukes Wear Black
By Manda Collins
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Manda Collins
All rights reserved.
The club members were acquitting themselves rather well among polite society, thought Piers Hamilton, Duke of Trent, the latest president of the Lords of Anarchy, as he surveyed them mingling with the highest sticklers of the ton.
Especially considering that the last party the Lords of Anarchy had hosted was an actual orgy.
The duke, known to his intimates as Trent, was the latest in a quick succession of leaders of the aforementioned driving club, which, on top of being known for its fast races and drunken debauchery, had also been helmed in the past couple of years by men who turned out to be somewhat less than scrupulous about some laws.
The one against murder, for instance.
So when the few remaining members with a conscience had approached him about becoming president, Trent had been hesitant. But he liked a challenge. And his years as an officer in His Majesty's army had shown him that even the most undisciplined of men could be molded into good soldiers. Thus he'd accepted the position with an eye toward reining in the wildest elements of the membership and giving the rest of them a club they could be proud of.
Now, watching the newest members of the club dancing with perfectly respectable ladies in the ballroom of his London residence, Trent was hopeful that there would be no more bad behavior from the Lords of Anarchy. At least not under his watch.
"Trent," said Lord Frederick Lisle, clapping his old friend on the shoulder, "you've done yourself proud with your first entertainment as the duke. I wouldn't have guessed a man with so little patience for socializing would manage it, but you proved me wrong."
Before he could retort, they were joined by the recently wed Earl of Mainwaring, who was the third in their circle since their schooldays. "You know you're supposed to dance with them," he said dryly, with a nod in the direction of a pair of young ladies who whispered furiously behind their fans while casting longing looks in Trent's direction.
As the three men watched, a young gentleman with laughably high shirt points and hair that had been pomaded and teased until it added three inches of height to his willowy frame approached the bevy and bowed deeply. Words were exchanged, eyelashes fluttered, and soon the young man was leading out the prettier of the two onto the dance floor. The other, her courage waning with the departure of her friend, turned her attention to the partygoers on her other side.
"Who was that strange creature?" Mainwaring asked, raising his quizzing glass to get a closer look at the bold young gentleman. "I don't think I've seen shirt points that high since —"
"You were that age?" Freddy finished with a laugh. "I seem to recall you were rather fond of the pomade as well."
"No more than you," Mainwaring retorted with a frown, turning his glass upon his friend. "And if we are paying calls in Memory Lane, then by all means let us discuss the time you so knotted your neck cloth your valet had to cut you out of it?"
"It's a very complicated knot," Freddy said with injured dignity. "Which you would know if you ever tried it yourself."
"Before you come to blows over your youthful fashion choices," Trent said mildly, "to answer your original question, Mainwaring, that 'creature' as you call him is my cousin Waldo Hamilton, who also happens to be my heir."
He watched with amusement as his friends blinked and glanced once more at Waldo, who was mincing through the steps of a country dance, careful not to hold the lady so close that she mussed his cravat.
"My condolences," Freddy said with a wince.
"Perhaps he'll get better with age?" Mainwaring asked, his voice rising with the question in a manner that indicated he didn't quite think so.
"He is seven-and-twenty years old," Trent said dryly. "If he hasn't grown out of the taste for that fashion by now I fear it's too late."
"I now see how truly lucky I am to be the youngest son," Freddy said sincerely. "No need to worry about the line of succession so no mixing with family members like that."
"One of the benefits certainly," Mainwaring said with a nod. "My heir isn't the sharpest stickpin in the jewel box but he's at least ..."
"Sensible? Able to dress himself without ending up looking like a caricature of a Parisian hairdresser?" Trent shook his head. "As you can see, gentlemen, I cannot allow the dukedom to go into Waldo's hands. He'd likely invest all the income from the home farms in pomade and the tenants would starve to death."
"He's not that bad, surely," Freddy said encouragingly. "Perhaps he has hidden depths."
"Wait until you've had a conversation with the fellow before you make that judgment," Trent said grimly. "And even if he were to become sensible overnight, I still have to think about the succession. Just because it is my duty."
"You and your duty," Mainwaring said with a roll of his eyes. "One of these days you'll realize that sometimes life is about doing what you want. Not just what you're required to do by duty."
"And sometimes duty and wanting blend together," Trent said with a speaking look. "Or do you deny that you wed Hermione because of both and not one or the other?"
"It's true," his friend said without rancor. "In my case the two overlapped. But I can tell you that even if I weren't duty-bound to marry her, I'd have found a way to make it happen regardless. Because I wanted her."
Trent knew that his friend's situation had been more complicated than he currently made it out to be. And he was happy that both Freddy and Mainwaring had found ladies to whom they could pledge their hearts as well as all their worldly goods. But he wasn't sure such a match was something that he could find for himself. For one thing he knew that with a dukedom at stake he was likely to be besieged with all manner of young ladies who were eager to become his duchess, whether she cared for him as a person or not. And for another, he hadn't the sort of charm Freddy wielded, or the effortless manners that Mainwaring possessed. He was, beneath all the polish of his title, a soldier at heart. And though he'd wooed his share of women with his red coat and a smile, without the uniform he was just another gentleman. At least that's how he felt. No matter how many times he was called your grace.
"Of course you would have," Freddy said with a nod. "And I have no doubt that Trent will be able to find someone just as we have. It's just a matter of, you know, talking to ladies. Dancing with them."
"What kind of host doesn't dance at his own ball?" Mainwaring asked with a speaking look at his friend. "You know that the more ladies you interact with, the sooner you'll find someone to prevent that awful twit from —"
"Ah, Waldo," interrupted Trent, as his cousin, now that the dance was finished, approached them with the young lady he'd so lately squired still on his arm. "I hope you are enjoying yourself."
"May I present Miss Clementina Sutpin, cousin?" Waldo asked with a bow. "She could speak of nothing but you throughout our dance. Miss Sutpin, this is my cousin, the Duke of Trent. And as we discussed, I am his heir."
The chit's eyes widened at her escort's words. "I'm sure I didn't ... that is to say, I never ..."
Trent dared not look at Freddy or Mainwaring lest he see their undoubtedly droll expressions.
"Miss Sutpin," he said, bowing over the young lady's hand, which trembled a little. "A pleasure to meet you. I hope you're having a pleasant time."
Before she could reply, Waldo spoke up. "Of course she is, Duke. And she's quite happy to meet you and your friends as well. These two fine fellows, my dear, are Lord Frederick Lisle, the fifth son of the Duke of Pemberton, and the Earl of Mainwaring."
The girl's cheeks colored at Waldo's words. "It is a pleasure to meet you, your grace," she said. Then turning to Freddy and Mainwaring, she added, "And you too, my lords." Removing her hand from Waldo's arm, though he looked as if he'd like to snatch it back, she continued, "If you gentlemen will excuse me, I need to find my next dance partner."
And before Waldo could ensnare her once more, she hurried off.
"A well enough looking chit if you discount the nose," Waldo said to the three men in an undertone. "I'd best be off to find my next partner as well. My thanks for the invitation, cousin. A fine gathering of suitable young ladies here."
As he too took his leave, the three men exchanged speaking looks.
"I can see why you are determined to marry soon," Freddy said baldly. "He's an appalling fellow."
"And I had thought the cravat and pomade were the worst of it," Mainwaring said, sounding a bit stunned. "But his manner is the worst by far."
"A definite incentive to find some suitable young lady and get her with child," Trend agreed, wishing he had a glass of claret to wash away the bad taste. "Can you imagine what sort of progeny he'd foist upon the world?"
Both Freddy and Mainwaring shuddered.
"I thought I'd find the three of you together," came a lady's voice from behind them. Turning, Trent saw Freddy's wife, Leonora, slipping up beside her husband. "Though you should all be doing your duty by dancing with the wallflowers."
"I might have done so," Freddy told her with a wink, "but Mainwaring and I had to stay by Trent here and give him some tips. I hear rag manners run in his family."
"Freddy," Leonora chided, "don't tease. There's nothing wrong with Trent's social graces. He simply isn't as much of a butterfly as you are. Which is not altogether a bad thing."
"Butterfly, eh?" Freddy frowned at his wife. "And here I thought I'd settled down with one beautiful flower in particular. I promise I'll sip nectar from no other, my dear. Which means no wallflowers. But Trent is free to flit among them."
"Yes, Trent," Mainwaring said archly, "why don't you go find some winsome wallflower to bestow your ... er —"
This line of metaphor could get ribald quickly, Trent thought wryly, interrupting his friend before he went too far. "I do not need permission from either of you to dance. I simply wanted to ensure that things were going smoothly."
"It's not as if you're the only man in the room on the lookout for a wife, Trent," Leonora said, interpreting his diffidence as shyness. "Besides, I don't think the horde of mothers with marriageable daughters are paying attention to our conversation just now. Not when that particular argument is taking place."
Following the direction of her gaze, he saw that there was indeed a quarrel going on.
One of the newest club members, and a fellow army veteran, George Grayson, was engaged in a heated discussion with a blond lady Trent assumed was the fellow's wife. They were standing just to the side of the doorway leading into the main hall, so only this side of the room was privy to their conversation.
"I asked you not to see that fellow anymore, Maggie," growled Grayson, gripping his wife's arm tightly.
"Let go of me, George," she hissed. "You're drunk. And you're embarrassing me."
"You're embarrassing yourself," Grayson said bluntly. "Chasing after a man so far below you."
"If anyone is bringing embarrassment on this family," she retorted hotly, finally pulling away, "it's you. Thank you for ruining the first night's entertainment I've had in months. I'm going home now."
As they looked on, Maggie Grayson stalked toward the cloakroom and away from the assembled company while her husband stared after her, his jaw set, his expression bleak.
Excusing himself to his guests, Trent threaded his way through the crowd that, now that the show was over, had turned away again.
When he reached Grayson's side, he laid a calming hand on the other man's arm. When Grayson turned with a growl, Trent held up his hands. "Easy, old man, I'm just here to see if there is aught I can do to help."
His response delayed a bit by the amount of alcohol he'd consumed, Grayson looked thunderous, but when he finally realized who it was who dared speak, his shoulders slumped. "Sh-sh-sorry, your g-grace," he slurred. "Fight with m'wife, don't y'know. D-damned headstrong woman."
"Refusing to cut a man who poses no threat to her husband does not make Maggie headstrong, Mr. Grayson," interjected an angry young woman who approached the drunk man from the other side. "She has done nothing wrong yet you continue to accuse her. You'll ruin both of them before you're through. Not to mention your marriage."
Trent was well acquainted with Miss Ophelia Dauntry, who as a dear friend of both Leonora Lisle and the Countess of Mainwaring was often in attendance at the same small parties of those couples as he was. Even so, he hadn't really expected her to be the sort who would accost a man in an open ballroom for mistreating his wife.
Grayson, it would seem, also knew Miss Dauntry. "Psh, you're just as bad as she is. Hoydens with no self-control, the pair of you."
Realizing that he needed to get Grayson out of the room as quickly as possible, Trent took the man by the arm and marched him past Miss Dauntry toward the same hallway through which Mrs. Grayson had just departed.
* * *
"Where're we goin'?" Grayson demanded blearily. "Got t' find m'wife."
"After you've sobered up a little, I think," Trent told the other man.
Miss Ophelia Dauntry followed as closely behind the Duke of Trent and George Grayson as she could without calling attention to herself.
If her mother got wind of her confrontation of Maggie's husband in the Duke of Trent's ballroom, she'd have a conniption fit for certain. But hopefully, Mrs. Dauntry was safely tucked away in the card room losing what was left of her pin money for the month. Safe in the knowledge that her younger daughter was betrothed to the Marquess of Kinston, Ophelia's mother would surely not trouble herself over the behavior of her elder daughter just yet.
At least not until she recalled that she wished for Ophelia to be settled as well as, or better than, Mariah.
Like George Grayson, Mrs. Dauntry didn't approve of the editor of the Ladies' Gazette one bit. But rather than fearing Edwin Carrington had designs on Mrs. George Grayson's virtue, Mrs. Dauntry thought his eye was on her daughter Ophelia.
And a newspaper editor was as far below a marquess in rank as a pauper was below a prince.
It mattered not that Ophelia had no interest in Edwin as a husband or anything other than as editor of her short essays for the paper. As Mrs. Dauntry saw things, every unmarried man who came into contact with one of her daughters had designs on them. Especially those who had something to gain from the hypothetical match.
Poor Edwin, Ophelia thought as she kept the top of Trent's head in sight. He likely had no idea what a bone of contention he'd proved to be for his two most popular contributors.
It soon became obvious that Trent was leading Grayson to one of the private family rooms of the large town house. She was aware of the impropriety of her course of action even as she continued to follow them, but she could see no other option.
George Grayson was not only going to ruin his wife's reputation among the ton, but he was also going to expose her identity as the author of one of the most popular columns with the ladies of the ton. "Ask a Reigning Toast" was an advice column to which the most desperate of society ladies turned when they needed advice on how to climb the ranks of the social ladder. And it had turned the Ladies' Gazette into a best seller among the ladies of both the beau monde and those who aspired to enter it.
Since the success of Maggie's column also ensured the success of Ophelia's own, lesser known column about needlework, she had a vested interest in keeping Maggie's going.
That meant stopping George Grayson from revealing his wife's identity as well as convincing him to leave her to her own devices.
"I suggest you turn around and go back to the ballroom, Miss Dauntry," Trent called to her over his shoulder as they neared the door to his study. "I appreciate your need to fight for your friend, but I will manage Grayson from here."
But she hadn't followed them this far just to turn around and go back to the dancing.
"I can appreciate your concern, your grace," Ophelia said, rushing forward and slipping into the room just when Trent would have closed the door. "But I must speak privately with Mr. Grayson."
"Don't have nothin' to say to ye," that man said from where he'd collapsed into a wing chair. "Damned nuisance. Convincing m'wife to take up w' that newspaperman."
Glaring at Ophelia in exasperation, Trent sighed deeply and gestured for her to take the seat near Grayson's. "If you insist on being here, then you'd best get on with it before your mother comes searching for you."
For a moment, Ophelia was flustered. She hadn't thought Trent paid her the least bit of attention. Certainly not enough to note her mother's intentions for her. While they were often in company together, she knew that as a duke and a devilishly handsome one at that, what with his broad shoulders and gleaming dark hair with a tendency to curl if it was left too long, he had no reason to take notice of her at all.
Excerpted from Good Dukes Wear Black by Manda Collins. Copyright © 2016 Manda Collins. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The second I have read in this series, I made a crucial mistake early on, and will forever feel guilty for it: never settle into your resentful feelings toward a character until you hear his story…. The Lords of Anarchy are a group of titled friends who enjoy a bit of carriage racing and other manly pursuits. Enough to raise the eyebrows of the ton, but not intentionally hurtful or destructive, simply a group of men seeking entertainments. Piers is the latest ‘leader’ of the group, headstrong, handsome, daring, and the Duke of Trent. He’s come to the notice of Ophelia Dauntry, a young writer with a regular feature in the Lady’s Gazette that uses a mix of research and scorn to reveal the foibles of the titled. While walking with her friend Maggie, another writer, Ophelia is brusquely shoved aside by those who spirit Maggie away. Believing that Maggie was taken for nefarious reasons, Ophelia confronts her husband, and discovers the man is a member of The Lords of Anarchy. Since her best friends are married to men who know Piers, she and he are acquainted; and she confronts his leadership to enlist his help in finding Maggie. Initially interested in redeeming the reputation of the club and expecting its members to be in agreement with him, Piers has a decision to make. Knowing that Ophelia would continue without him, something that his own sense of honor and justice will not allow, Piers agrees to assist Ophelia (although hoping that she will remain more in the background) as the reasons for Maggie’s admittance to a mental institution are discovered. I found Piers a touch self-satisfied and dismissive, but he was so much more: clever and playing his cards close to the vest when he asks questions. His relationship and developing affection and admiration for Ophelia grow slowly, and the revelations of the medical beliefs and treatment of women by the ‘mental health’ system of the time were illuminating. Trent’s clear expression of his interest in helping Ophelia because he wants to please her comes primary to his wishing to see justice done, but the balance of the “mission’ and the relationship play perfectly to keep readers engaged and thinking. A wonderful installment in the series, with romantic moments, clever banter and characters that develop and reveal themselves to readers and one another beautifully. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
When her friend and fellow writer for a newspaper is taken away in manacles, Ophelia Dauntry knows one man she can trust to help and goes to the home of Piers Hamilton, Duke of Trent. Ophelia’s best friends are married to Trent’s friends and she knows him to be strong and trustworthy. Working with Ophelia to find clues to her friend’s disappearance, Trent falls in love with the opinionated woman and wants her for his wife. Her mother has other ideas but Ophelia has fallen for Trent and no one else will do. Trent rescues her from the villains who took her friend and from a loveless marriage her mother wanted to force her into. Their friendship developed into love.
Piers Hamilton is the Duke of Trent and the latest president of the Lords Of Anarchy which was a driving club known for it’s fast races and drunken debauchery. Trent liked a challenge and accepted becoming president of the club but he planned on cleaning it up and he know watched the members mingling with the ton. Trent had spent years in His Majesty’s Army and knew how to to train unruly men into the best soldiers. Now Trent hoped there would be no more bad behavior from the club members. Trent, Frederick Lisle, and the Earl Of Mainwaring was in a circle of friends that had been friends since their schooldays. The Earl of Mainwaring’s wife was Hermione and Frederick’s wife was Leonora. Trent was glad his friends had found wives but he didn’t know if he ever would find one. First Trent didn’t want a woman who didn’t care for him only his title and Trent didn’t have the charm or manners his friends did as underneath he was a soldier at heart. Ophelia was at the party which wasn’t unusual as she was friends with the Earl’ wife as well as Fredrick's. Ophelia’s mother was not happy Ophelia had anything to do with the newspaper editor Edwin but all Ophelia cared about is in concern to Edwin was he put her short essays in his paper. But tonight Ophelia had words with Maggie’s husband George. Trent was taking him away but Ophelia followed behind. George Grayson was about to ruin his wife’s reputation and expose her identity as the author of a very popular advice column “Ask A Reigning Toast”. This was an advice column for society women. With Maggie’s success it ensured the success of Ophelia's column about needlework.Also at some later date Maggie and Ophelia hope to be able to write about more important things like the orphanage and other important issues. Ophelia goes out shopping with Maggie and two men come up and put Maggie in handcuffs and says her husband wants Maggie committed for her insane behavior in care of Dr. Hayes. Both Ophelia and Trent work to save Maggie and investigate why she was committed. But Trent makes it clear he is helping because he likes Ophelia. But he does also want justice. Ophelia’s mother is determined to marry Ophelia off to her best friend's son but Ophelia refuses to enter into a passionless marriage. Ophelia was smart enough to have her two friends go to the orphanage with her. Ophelia and Trent have a slow building romance now. Then George Grayson mysterious disappears. I really loved this story. I loved the intrigue and excitement and obviously the romance between Trent and Ophelia. I love how Trent is protective of Ophelia but even more he respects her and is acting as a gentleman and is willing to wait to go to bed with her. Also Trent is willing to help Ophelia find her friend and how loyal and independent Ophelia is. This story has a great plot . I also love the twists and turns as well as the characters. I highly recommend.
I really liked this story. Having met Ophelia and Trent in the previous books, I knew that we were in for some fun when Collins paired these two up! I loved that Ophelia had a job when it was frowned upon for anyone in the ton to work for their money. But she did it because she enjoyed writing for the paper. She wanted to use her words to make the world a better place...if only they would let her write what she wanted to write about. Trent is also not your typical member of the ton. Having spent 10 yrs in the British Army, I felt like he has a whole lot more discipline than other of his station would have. I loved the interactions between Trent and Ophelia. Bantering between the H/H is always one of my favorite things to have included in the stories that I read and Collins is masterful at writing that dialogue. I'm excited to see what Collins has in store for us next! Thanks go out to St. Martin's Press for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
Ophelia is a writer for the Ladies Gazette and when she see her friend and fellow writer kidnapped before her eyes. Ophelia begins the investigation into her friend’s disappearance which leads her to the lords of anarchy driving club. The new leader of the club Lord Trent is doing his best to clean up the mischief in the club but with Ophelia snooping around it is only going to get worse. I loved the chemistry and the interaction between Trent and Ophelia. The story is full of drama, suspense and romance. An enjoyable historical read!
Regency Romance Book 3 in the series . Hero is Trent (a Duke ) Heroine is Ophelia. Ophelia is at a ball with her friends ( her friends husbands are friends with Trent and you meet them in book 1 and book 2) when she sees a scuffle. Her friend is having an argument with her husband right in the middle of the ball. Ophelia and that friend are writers for a lady gazette and her friends husband doesn't like it . Plus her husband is accusing her of having an affair . Ophelia left the ball a little latter and but after her friend . The next day Ophelia and her friend is at the newspaper taking to the editor about doing some in deep articles instead of a gossip article . The editor says no ... NO . The ladies leave to go to a hat shop . While on the road outside of the shop two burly men come and they are taking Ophelia friend away to the nut house as we call it now . Ophelia start to question them asking by who's order . The two men advise by the his band and they push Ophelia and hurt her . The doctor is friends with the Lords of Anarchy who Trent is the president . Ophelia goes to see Trent to question him . Grab it and see who the bad guys are !! Few suprises in the story
I received an eARC, from NetGalley and the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. This is book three in the "Lords of Anarchy" series by Manda Collins. Miss Ophelia Dauntry is a writer for a ladies Gazette along with a few of her friends. While on a shopping trip with her friend Maggie, who is also a writer..her friend Maggie gets kidnapped. Ophelia is desperate to find a way to help her friend. Piers Hamilton, the Duke of Trent has taken over managing Lords of Anarchy a driving club. Ophelia has heard of Trent through friends. Ophelia thinks Trent can help her find her friend and so starts their relationship from friends to lovers. I really enjoyed this book and hope that you will too. Follow my reviews through these links..thanks! http://sissymaereads.blogspot.com/ https://www.facebook.com/sally.mae.39... https://www.facebook.com/groups/17091...
Okay, the hero is what I loved most about this story. He really was the best part of the story as far as I'm concerned. The Duke of Trent is now the new leader of The Lord's of Anarchy Club (driving club). Trent was determined that the club's reputation needed to be cleaned up and he would have it run in a legal and above board manner. Trent had character, was a protector and wanted to help those in need. These traits made him an all around great hero and likable character. Ophelia writes for the Lady's Gazette's and she's a strong, determeined blue stocking. One of Ophelia's friends is kidnapped, supposedly by men her husband hired. Ophelia is determined to find and rescue her friend. Both Ophelia and Trent are aquatinted. Ophelia is aware of Trent's skills and believes he can assist her in finding her friend. Really liked the relationship these two had. Both characters were respectful, intelligent and gave the other due deference. The evolving of the characters relationship from friendship to a love interest was layered with moments of chemistry and intellectual banter that was a delightful read. I appreciated the author's ability to write in such a way that I envisioned the changing scenery as the story unfolded. There is the mystery of the kidnapped friend and it plays pretty heavily into the story but doesn't take away from the romance, it's well balanced. But in the end Trent is what I loved most about this story. This was the best of the series, for me anyway. It held my interest and was written well.