Very disappointed in this. It has all of Mary Balogh's worst traits as an author. The heroine is very passive; the hero is emotionally confused and a real "taker" rather than a giver. For example, he
takes the heroine's virginity and belatedly offers to marry her, but, she wants a kind of independence, and also isn't sure he could ever *love* her... the lame-est sort of delay between a hero/heroine's eventual HEA that an author can put in a romance.
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There's a creepy subtext later on in the story, where a criminally sick man preys on the hero and heroine (especially the heroine). Bleh. I don't understand the raves for this story. I found it a little disturbing, and a lot just plain boring.
The story of Lady Emily, a deaf-mute loved and protected by her family and her childhood soul mate, Ashley. He is tortured by guilt and a nasty suspicion and returns to England after a 7 year hiatus.. She is a breath away from being betrothed and then all kinds of emotions come up. Altho I love Balogh, this one took a long time to get to the point.