I love Thorncliff Manor. I love the idea of it, I love that Lady Duncaster, a widow, turned her grandiose house into a vacation spot for the titled and wealthy. I love the concept of the story it is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera except the phantom in this case isn’t a psychotic narcissist with illusions of grandeur. I love that the heroine has a secret identity, that isn’t an author but something more risqué. The underlining mystery that continues thorough out the previous books continues with this one and gives just enough to keep you interested in the mystery. The characters are well rounded and each have their own secrets that they hid behind and refuse to let themselves fall in love, that is until they meet each other. Sophie Barnes is wonderful when it comes to active setting, she weaves her words drawing you in the beauty and the elaborateness of the masquerade ball to the mystery and romantic setting of the underground Roman ruins. If I didn’t already love the series, this book would have synched the deal.
Richard Heartly is a second son, he did his duty and joined the military, and he was captured and assumed dead, well to everyone but his family. Richard suffers from PTSD and views his scars worse than they actually are. As a result Richard has not reinterred society he has let everyone outside his family to think he’s dead, except Lady Duncaster. She manages to convince him to attend the masquerade ball, after all what better ways to hide your whole identity then with a bauta. Out of all the Lady’s in attendance he spots one and feels a connection to her. Lady Mary Bourneville has been fending off her aunt’s attempts at marrying her off even before arriving at Thorncliff Manor but he choice in costumes draws some unwanted attention. Humoring her aunt she goes along with it but there is only one man she wants to be with the mysterious Segnor Antonio. Their initial conversation consisted of books, music, and why she feels marriage is a bad choice. He is different from other men, he actually listened to her, treated her like her opinions mattered and didn’t try to change or argue with her about her feelings on marriage. The only problem is that her aunt refuses to allow him to pursue her because he hides his true identity behind the mask and refuses to reveal it. That doesn’t stop them they meet secretly at night and slowly reveal to each other their secrets and discovering the secrets of Thorncliff Manor. Lady Mary is receiving unwanted attention from an old family friend and it’s giving her the creeps, twice already Richard has had to save Mary from the man.
Mary is intelligent enough she figures out his real name and his family, but she waits until he trusts her enough to reveal it himself. She knows if she shows how much she trusts him by revealing her own secret he can do the same. Overall, I could not love this book more than I do. It is my favorite of the series so far and Richard and Mary are my favorite couple so far. I can’t wait for more.
**ARC provided by Publisher**