The Mysterious Heir by Edith Layton

The Mysterious Heir by Edith Layton
Publisher: Untreed Reads Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (139 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid


In dress, manner, and speech, Miss Elizabeth DeLisle seemed every inch a leisured lady. No one could guess she had been forced to take a position in trade—or that she had come to the Earl of Auden’s estate to entice him into naming her dismayingly disagreeable cousin Anthony heir to a fortune that she then could share.

But Elizabeth had stiff competition for the Earl’s imperious favor…from the schemingly seductive Lady Isabel Courtney and her odious little boy, Owen…from the implacably upright Richard Courtney and his unfortunate honesty…and from the memory of the Earl’s first wife, who had made him despise women who deceived.

Elizabeth knew she could never reveal the truth to the Earl—even when she forgot about gaining his fortune and began losing her heart….

Left with a bad limp from the Napoleonic wars and a broken heart from his deceased wife, Morgan, Earl of Auden, has no desire to marry again. He must decide which of his three great uncles’ male children will be heir to his title and estates. All three cousins are called to his country estate at Lyonshall so he can decide who will be the chosen one.

One is a young schoolboy and his widowed mother accompanies him, eager to either get her son named as heir or grab the Earl as a husband. One penniless young man hopes to sway his true love’s heart with the title. The last is a radical, reckless young man. His family sends his maternal cousin Elizabeth (no relation to the Earl) to accompany him and keep him from ruining his chance of becoming the heir.

There is mystery behind each of the prospective heirs, and hidden reasons why each would like to become the sixth Earl. Anthony and his cousin Elizabeth have been kitted out by their uncle to appear worthy and wealthy applicants for Anthony to inherit. This duplicity worries Elizabeth and makes her act in unusual ways. The interaction between Elizabeth and Morgan is tense at first then sways between tension and guilt then sweet and tender moments with the promise of something deeper.

I haven’t read a regency romance for some time as they tend to read like variations of similar stories. This one however is different. The conflict ebbed and flowed and kept my attention from beginning to end. The ending didn’t really show itself until the final pages, and it was the promise of what was to come and more to the point, how it would come about, that kept my interest. Good book, well written, excellent story.

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