Avon, Jan 2002, 5.99, 384 pp.
In 1818 Gunnisloe, Baron James Harkness, who rarely comes to the Cornish village from his Pendurgan home, hears a nearby auction whose bidding and commentary seem strange to him. He wanders over to take a look when he is stunned to see a woman on the block instead of cattle. Unable to sit idly by while the “wife sale” continues, James overbids and wins the prize. Gilbert Russell sells his wife Verity to “Lord Heartless” as the locals call James in order to pay off his debts.
Though she starts with doubts about her savior due to the rumors that he killed his wife and child, Verity quickly notices his compassion towards people even those not deserving of it. She begins to fall in love with her benefactor and he feels the same attraction, but the secrets he keeps from everyone including her leaves no hope for a real relationship.
Candice Hern places a classic style gothic romance inside a Regency tale so that the audience receives the best of both sub-genres. The story line engages the audience due to the lead characters, the dark brooding but caring James and the innocent bewildered Verity. Though James overdoes his secrets better than the CIA, the audience will want this charming duo to find happiness. His problems and to a lesser degree her first marriage makes for a rocky path that provides delighted readers with much pleasure.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner