Colonel Phineaus Bromley returns home after ten years finding his family estate falling apart and dressed as an highway man to discover who is making his family estate to go to ruins. Colonel Phineas Bromley is a legend on the battlefield and in the bedroom. He is a notorious bachelor though he has not returned home for ten years. He had a fall out with his older brother, William, The Viscount Quence. Though he received a letter from his younger sister Elizabeth saying that the Viscount is seriously ill and is on his death bed. Phineaus rides to see his brother thinking it will be his last time and hopefully his brother can forgive him.
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When he arrived home, he found out that his sister was lying to him. The Viscount was not on his death bed but he still was the same as Phineas saw him the last time, a paraplegic. He always felt guilty and blamed himself for causing his older brother to become what he is today. When Phineas found out that Elizabeth lied to him he got angry, but she insisted that she did tell the truth. Lately, the estate has been going down hill, as Phineaus did note on his way to the estate, and there is someone trying to ruin the family. She knew that William could not do anything because he is a good man, so she asked Phineaus to help out. Phineaus is reluctant but is curious as to what is happening to the estate so he agrees to stay at least for dinner when Elizabeth tells him that the Donnellys are coming as guests. This perks Phineaus' curiously because he has not seen Alyse Donnelly for years.
Alyse Donnelly is currently her Aunt Ernesta's companion. Alyse has been hiding with her Aunt with the scandal that she brought with her family. She agreed to elope with a married man years ago and even came to his house during a social event. Alyse disgraced by the supposed man and society. She became companion of her Aunt Ernesta who is the mother to the Viiscount Donnelly's heir, Richad. When she sees Phineaus she remembers all of their childhood spend happily but not to be tempted by love again she tries to create a wall between her and Phineaus.
Though when Phineaus confided to Alyse that someone is trying to ruin his family estate the two team up together to find the mysterious highway man that is suspected to be linked as "the Frenchmen" because he can speak French and one of Richard's friends Smythe suspects that it was Phineaus which was true, but Phineaus only stole information from Richard and Smythe's family to protect his family's estate.
At first Alyse does not believe Smythe's allegation but when Phineaus confess it to her, she decides to help him out. They both reconnect and to start to fall in love with one another. Phineaus confides to Alyse what happened to him and William ten years ago. William and Phineaus had a horse race. Phineaus was mad at William because he believed that without William he will have a place in the family. Phineaus got angry and knocked his mount into William's mount who fell off and broke his back and became a paraplegic. Phineaus became guilty of that fact and ran off to join the army, hoping to be killed.
It was Smythe and Richard that was acting as the notorious highway man. They were trying to get the ancient baths that were on Bromley land and was unused for centuries. They were trying to ruin the estate and buy it from William. Phineaus comfrots his brother about the land and about the baths in the area. He also comfronts William about what happened ten years ago and broke down. William tells Phineaus that he was never angry at Phineaus for his actions but angrier for leaving the family when things got bad. He refused to listen to Phineaus until Phineaus looked William into his eye and argue with him. Phineaus feels a weight lifted off his shoulder and convince William what is happening to the land. He confesses to William that he was the highwayman and that is how he got the information. Though William refuses to have his hands get dirty and says he will figure out something to do.
Though Phineaus takes the matters in his own hand. First, to divert the suspicion of him being the Frenchman, by asking the help from Sullivan and Bramwell. They trick Smythe and Richard that Phineaus is not the highway man by using Sullivan and Bramwell as a decoy. The second is helping Alyse to come to fortune from Viscount's Donnelly's estate, ten thousand pounds. The plan works and Alyse says that she will invest the money to rebuild Bromley's estate and the baths. She and Phineaus marries at the end after the restoration.
Best part of story, including ending:
I loved the family dynamic of this story, and it incorporated the love of family and the love for significant other with great balance.
Best scene in story:
When Phineaus goes to the ball for the first time in ages with his family, he notes with guilt what he has done for his brother. He is struggling how to cope with the idea what his actions caused and the worry about how to protect his family that he abandoned.
Opinion about the main character:
I liked Alyse because she is not your typical romance novel heroine, she started to be overtly confident but lost her pedestal because of a scandal. She learned to be more down to earth and human which helped to show Phineas how to forgive with your family.