Once an Innocent – Elizabeth Boyce

Why must all good things come to an end (dramatic sigh)…?  What a fabulous series I just finished.  I can’t help but wish for more…maybe a book about tragic Mr. Ditman?  A follow up on young Kate?  They are all characters I would love to see further developed.  But hey –  speaking of developments…let’s talk about THIS book (which, admittedly, was my favorite in the set) and the romance brewing between Lord Jordan Freese and Lady Naomi, younger sister to Marshall from the first book in the series.  

Jordan Freese, secret agent for the government, never had room for relationships in his busy life of intrigue and danger…especially not for the precarious young Lady Naomi who was always lurking in his and her older brother Marshall’s shadows.  But wait!  She’s not the young girl he remembered (not at all)…but a beautiful woman full of niggling curiosity and (gasp) passion!  When Freese catches her setting up an ill fated rendevous during a charity auction, he realizes she is more like him than he originally thought.  Not looking for marriage, but for something more illicit, he wonders if they could both benefit from a relationship of their own (friends with, er, plenty of benefits)…?  Meanwhile, an emergency government assignment leaves Jordan scrambling for a plan – which conveniently includes Lady Naomi.

Lady Naomi is quite desperate to find a husband and start a family of her own, but things reach a new urgency when Marshall and Isabelle send her off to a mysterious house party (with Aunt Janine as a chaperone) to Jordan Freese’s house.  She is made to feel that she MUST attend and even dear Isabelle, who is soon ready to deliver her first child, makes her feel like she’s been ousted from her own home.  How can this be?  One thing her brother Marshall makes quite clear (other than wanting her out of his own home) is to stay far away from the lord of the house.  But why?  Dashing Jordan Freese was always a good friend to her brother and when Freese’s own step mother confides that he needs a friend like Naomi to confide in, how can she resist getting to know him better (besides, she always been a bit in love with him)?  

It doesn’t take long for Naomi to realize something is quite off with this little house party, however, and there are more mysteries than answers.  Who are all of these men at the party and why are they armed?  Who is the mysterious young French man in the attic?  Who is the brooding Mr. Ditman and why does he have an identical scar to Jordan’s?  And the big question…is it Naomi or her heart that is truly in danger?  

Jordan will stop at nothing to protect Lady Naomi, just like he promised his friend, Marshall he would do.  But his protectiveness of Naomi runs uncomfortably deeper than a commitment to a friend to keep his sister safe.  After tasting her fiery passion, he is consumed with thoughts of Naomi, leaving him unfocused and unable to properly do his duty to God and Country – just further proof that he can’t let a woman get in the way of who Jordan Freese really is.  She deserves the best – but how can he hand her over to someone else and can he deny himself the ultimate reward?  

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