It pains me to give this a low review -- really I guess it's between a 2.5 and 3 star. I love Lorraine Heath and I love the potential of this series, but this book was a real disappointment.
In the previous book, "She Tempts the Duke", Tristan Easton is very appealing. He's the rakish twin brother of the disfigured hero of that book and he was definitely intriguing. Unfortunately, I felt very disconnected from him as a romantic lead in this book and I'm still trying to figure out why.
He's cynical and selfish, but that all comes from the difficulties he's experienced. Ultimately, I found him irritating and I didn't feel the usual sympathy that makes me want to stick with him. How could I not be moved more than I was by his back story? I'm still scratching my head.
His behavior toward the heroine wasn't outwardly cruel, but his intentions sometimes felt ugly. Especially near the end when I felt like he crossed the line in both purpose and deed.
The heroine was fine. She was naive and inexperienced but far from stupid. Very proper. But I basically liked her. I wanted her to say "no" to him a number of times. I felt like he too easily talked her into things she (and he) knew would be damaging to her. Even that didn't make me feel like she was TSTL (when normally it would), it just made me more annoyed at Tristan.
The last quarter of the book feels very rushed as loose ends are tied up, including a ludicrous conclusion to the arc of two "catalyst characters" who could have been deleted from the book entirely at any time and I wouldn't have noticed. I didn't mind the neat conclusion to the main romance, I just wish I'd been more drawn into the angst I think I was supposed to feel for Tristan.
Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm so used to the tropes in historical romance that only one out of ten will engage me.
I'll complete the trilogy and hope that Rafe's story hooks me more. The potential for these characters is off-the-chart, so there's clearly a chance it can bring the series up to Heath's usual level of quality story-telling.
By the way, this is a shipboard romance for most of it. Part of it also takes place in London. Shipboard romances are among my least favorite tropes, so maybe that contributed to my disengagement. One good thing, though. Contrary to pretty much every single other shipboard romance I've ever read, when the experienced hero tells the heroine to stay below deck during danger ... she does! She actually does! She listens to him! That almost never happens! So, a half a star for that at least. ;-)