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  • Childhood friends turned enemies romance

    Freya de Moray has been living undercover for five years as a lady's companion in her role as Macha for the secret society of Wise Women. She has been recalled to Scotland but has one last mission, to prevent a Witch Act being passed in Parliament that will result in Wise Women being persecuted as witches rather than the progressive, feminist, intellectual society that they are. The person championing the Witch Act is Lord Randolph and Freya hopes to find something untoward about his wife's death and hasty burial that may result in his disgrace. She manages to persuade her employer to accept an invitation to a house party at Baron Lovejoy's country estate, which just happens to lie close to Lord Randolph's home. On a mission to rescue a baby being withheld from his mother, Lady Brightwater, by her brother-in-law, Freya runs across her childhood crush, Christopher Renshaw, now the Duke of Harlowe. Fifteen years ago there was a terrible incident (fair warning it is never truly explained and is clearly an arc across several books), dubbed the Greycourt Tragedy, in which Freya's brother Ran was badly maimed, Freya blames Christopher for this tragedy and is incensed to see that he is wearing Ran's signet ring. Or is she more incensed that he doesn't recognise her from the 12 year old girl she was when they last saw each other? Christopher was disgraced by the Greycourt Tragedy and he was summarily married and exiled to India by his parents. After a series of unfortunate events Christopher was orphaned and inherited the Dukedom with all its wealth, but it hasn't brought him happiness. His wife died in exile and he is being blackmailed by someone who has some of her love letters. He agrees to meet his blackmailer at a country house party, hosted by his brother-in-law, Baron Lovejoy. He has no friends and no family and has lived as a recluse ever since he returned to the UK. To add further intrigue, two of the other house guests are Messalina and Lucretia Greycourt, sisters of Aurelia Greycourt whose death lies at the heart of the Greycourt Tragedy. I've read a lot of negative opinions about this book, not least that it is set at least 50 years prior to the Regency period in which it is advertised as being set (I hope that sentence makes sense). All I have to say is that I read the second book in the series and found that much easier to understand once I had read this book and gleaned the backstory. Yes, I disliked the Wise Women story which seemed a lot of detail just to create a reason for Freya to go to the house party, but otherwise I like the idea of three families of childhood friends rent asunder by a terrible tragedy when they were all still in their late teens by a terrible tragedy, one which has left their mark (literally and figuratively) on all of them.

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