Series: Burke Brothers (Book 2)
Hell hath no fury like a bridegroom scorned...
Maximillian Burke has always prided himself on being the man every mother would want her daughter to marry. But after his scoundrel of a brother makes off with Max's bride, Max discovers it's more satisfying to be a rogue than the perfect gentleman. Forced to flee London after a duel gone wrong, he seeks refuge at Cadgwyck Manor on the lonely coast of Cornwall, a place as wild and savage as his current temper. The tumbledown manor comes complete with its own ghost but oddly enough, it's not the White Lady of Cadgwyck who haunts Max's heated dreams--but his no-nonsense housekeeper.
The last thing housekeeper Anne Spencer needs is a new master, especially one as brooding and gorgeous as the Earl of Dravenwood. Even as she schemes to be rid of her new employer, she finds herself irresistibly drawn into his strong, muscular arms. When Max vows to solve the mystery of Cadgwyck's ghost, he doesn't realize it will put both of their hearts at risk and tempt them to surrender to a pleasure as delicious as it is dangerous.
Fun book. Max has been running wild ever since his fiancee jilted him to marry his brother. He'd always been the good brother, but now he just doesn't care. When he finally goes a bit too far, he heads off to the furthest piece of property the family owns. All he wants is to be left alone to wallow in his misery. He arrives to find a manor in disrepair, rumors of a ghost that drives almost everyone away, the oddest group of staff he's ever seen, and a housekeeper he can't keep off his mind.
Anne and her coworkers have had the manor almost entirely to themselves for years, which suits them just fine. There's something at the manor that they have been searching for, and others just get in their way. Anne will do whatever she needs to in order to keep it that way. But the new owner doesn't scare easily, and it isn't long before she doesn't want him to leave.
Max wasn't very likable at the beginning. It had been a couple years since his fiancee had jilted him, but he was still feeling sorry for himself. He was drinking too much and doing stupid things, including the duel that was the final straw. I liked the fact that he knew getting away was the best thing for him, but his attitude was still bad. His arrival at Cadgwyck wasn't anything like he expected and it has soured his mood even more. But there's something about Anne that breaks through the wall of misery around his heart, and a mystery about the manor that gives him something else to think about.
It was fun to see the things that Anne and the others did to make Max's stay as miserable as possible, and how he refused to let it affect him. The confrontations between them had sparks flying that both were determined to resist; Max because she's a servant, and Anne because mistakes from her past keep her from believing she deserves any happiness. I loved Max's refusal to be driven away, and how the mystery intrigued him enough to want to solve it. I liked his determination not to be driven away, and how he started to like the craziness around him. Anne was a bit frustrated by his fascination with the "White Lady", especially when he also seemed taken with her. Their verbal battles were fun to see, but also showed that they were getting to know each other very well. I liked the protectiveness that Max developed and how he showed it. Anne also came to understand Max well, which led her to say the things she did when his brother came to visit.
Things got a bit intense when a fire was set that could have killed them all. The results of that fire had some interesting consequences, involving a search on the rainswept moor, an illness and a night time visit with the "White Lady". What happened next was pretty intense. I had suspected the truth about the mystery of the "White Lady" and was happy to see that I was right. There was one twist that I didn't expect. I really liked the epilogue and seeing the changes that had happened. The surprise that Max brought home for Anne was the perfect ending.