After 20 years the Earl of Templemore has found his lost heir and the Ton is in uproar!
Margery Mallon is a lady's maid with ambitions to be a confectioner. The one thing that she does not want is to be Lady Marguerite of Templemore, the richest heiress in England. Henry, Lord Wardeaux, is the man who would have inherited Templemore had Lady Marguerite never been found. Now it is his duty to teach her all she needs to know about the estate.
Henry has too much pride and too much of a dark past to marry Margery simply to reclaim the inheritance he thought was his. But although she is forbidden to him, it seems that she is the one woman he cannot resist.
I'm not certain of the actual likelihood of such a Cinderella-esque story, but it was very entertaining to see Margery Mallon accept her new life as Lady Marguerite. We've been introduced to Margery, though only in passing, in several of the previous Scandalous Ladies of the Ton books, so I was glad to learn more of her here in this unusual and probably far-fetched scenario.
Several instances surprised me, but particularly Henry's instant attraction to Margery despite his insistence (to himself) that he does not want her. Margery's attraction to Henry is more believable.
All the emotion that had burned between them since he walked into her life blazed into vivid being. Margery could feel the elemental anger in him, all the more frightening because it was held under such absolute control. For one long, heart-stopping moment he looked down into her eyes. Then he started to lower his head.
"Don't you dare--" Margery began. Her heart was beating so violently against her bodice that she could feel the batter if it through her entire body.
"I do," Henry said. "I do dare."
I did wonder how Henry could so quickly give up the idea of inheriting Templemore once Margery had been found. Margery's grandfather had never given up hope his granddaughter would be found -- despite not speaking about her to Henry it would seem. Is Henry's acquiescence mentioned to show what a good man he is? He clearly loved the property and its tenants; why would he just roll over once Margery came back into the picture? Even his mother suggests they marry so Henry could retain the property (and wealth).
And how could Margery instantly love her grandfather? She's terrified of all other aspects of becoming a lady -- losing her identify and sense of self -- yet she accepts him easily.
Regardless of these quibbles, Forbidden was a great way to spend an afternoon and a great ending to the Scandalous Ladies of the Ton series.
(A very special thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Forbidden.)