Setting, London 1817 --- Marianne Hughes has been a widow for some time now and after marriage to a very young immature man, her notion of marriage life left much to be desired. Fortunately, she was left somewhat comfortable which afforded her to live a genteel if not wealthy life and not have to resort to becoming someone’s governess. However, as this respectable widow, she was approached by her in-laws to chaperone the comely Miss Crookshanks’ come out in London.
John Sinclair, Marquess of Gillingham, due to a scarred countenance from the ravages of a childhood case of smallpox, has lived as something of a hermit, avoiding crowds, hardly ever venturing out to the city or out of the dark, but rather than leave his younger hated brother as the heir, he would make a quick trip to London and hope to entice a young miss to become his wife and produce an heir. He didn’t expect love, but thought his title and wealth might prove to be enough to convince a woman to bear his child.
The comely and spoiled Miss Louisa Crookshank, had heard of the beastly looking Marquis through the gossips and knew he was in the city to find a bride. She had been sorely disappointed in love by a childhood neighbor and friend who she’d expected would ask for her hand and rather than admit defeat, would do her best to snare a title -more for spite than for love. The Marquis was her target and Louisa very forwardly made his acquaintance, but it was Marianne that John was attracted to. Thinking Marianne was married he paid his attentions to Louisa and before he was made aware of Marianne’s single status, Louisa had contrived to have him awkwardly state his intentions that she misconstrued into a proposal which she promptly accepted.
In this delightful story and sequel to DEAR IMPOSTER, there are villains and intrigue as well as a dysfunctional family background, making BEAUTY IN BLACK a wonderful read. There is some very nice sensuality felt in this book, however when Marianne and John both finally admit to their mutual attraction, the passion is extremely palatable and well worth the wait – wow! The intrigue of who was trying to cause harm to Louisa – or so everyone thought - was a light little mystery, but I was more impressed with the secondary storyline of the relationship between two brothers who were pitted against one another from childhood by a vicious father that I found to be extremely poignant. Nevertheless, I found that the plot, the romance, the intrigue all blended together into a book that captured my imagination from start to finish. I highly recommend this book