What a super duper historical romance! Not quite Regency, as this is set in very late 1800s. Since I am used to reading Regencies it was a bit jarring every time I read about a house with electric lights and also photographs.
Lord Vere and Elissande both lead lives of secrets and are very good at presenting different faces to different people. She lives with aunt, a shell of a woman addicted to laudanum, and her uncle, a cruel monster who torments both of them and has made them prisoners of the house. Lord Vere presents himself to the world as a dear sweet bumbling idiot (the result of a riding accident), but in truth he is an agent working for the Crown. Their paths cross when Lord Vere is investigating her uncle for something have to with diamond mines and finds a way to be at her house for three days. Elissande, willing to do anything to escape and save herself and her aunt, decides that perhaps marrying a titled gentleman might be her ticket out and sets into action a plan to make that happen.
There were many wonderfully woven mysterious backstories, making this romance have a fair amount of tension and mystery. You know what I love about historical romances? Many many plot things happen and people fall in love and get married (sometimes to strangers) in a matter of days, if not hours. There is an awful lot of love at first sight-pretent to hate each other-grow to love each other.
I really liked this a lot and will definitely go find more books by this author!