Her Scottish Scoundrel
Sophie Barnes, author
Destined for the hangman's noose, love is a dream he cannot afford to have... When Blayne MacNeil agrees to be Miss Charlotte Russell's bodyguard, he doesn't expect her to expand the job description to fake fiancé. After twenty years in hiding, announcing his engagement to a viscount's daughter could prove fatal. For if anyone were to recognize him, he'd be charged with murder. Determined to keep her independence in order to safeguard her writing career, Charlotte must avoid marriage. After all, no respectable gentleman would ever permit his wife to pen outrageous adventure novels. But when her most recent manuscript disappears, the roguish Scotsman posing as her fiancé becomes her closest ally – and the greatest threat to her freedom.
The fake relationship between a refined author and her roguish bodyguard makes Barnes’s seventh Diamonds in the Rough Georgian romance (after The Formidable Earl) sparkle. After Charlotte Russell is robbed during a visit to her publisher in a seamy part of London, she hires a bodyguard to accompany her on her future trips. Blayne MacNeil, the imposing Scotsman proprietor of the Black Swan tavern, accepts the position, lured by a lucrative salary that might help him duck his dark past and retire to the quiet life he seeks. Then Charlotte changes the job description, pleading with Blayne to pretend to be her fiancé to help her avoid the marriage her parents have arranged for her. Blayne reluctantly takes on the role of upper-crust suitor, drawing on his schooling at Eton, but worries that by putting himself so in the spotlight, he risks exposure and arrest for a murder committed 20 years before. Still, Blayne is undeniably drawn to Charlotte, and when her new manuscript is stolen from her publisher, he agrees to help track it down. Barnes gradually peels back the layers of her characters to reveal their hidden depths, providing a basis for their intense mutual attraction premised on more than physical appearances. Readers won’t want to put this down. (Self-published)