The Earl’s Complete Surrender
by Sophie Barnes
Series: Secrets at Thorncliff Manor #2
Genre: Historical Romance, Mystery
Release Date: December 29th, 2015
Format: Paperback/eBook, 384 pages
An unexpected passion ignites as secrets are exposed in Sophie Barnes’s captivating Regency-set romance
Despite the diversions offered at Thorncliff Manor, former spy James, the Earl of Woodford, has one purpose in staying there. He must find an encoded book that exposes a conspiracy within the British aristocracy. And he must do so without revealing his purpose to the clever, tempting Chloe Heartly. The lady has a knack for appearing wherever it is least convenient. In the library. In the salon. And, especially, in his arms . . .
Somewhere within Thorncliff’s labyrinth of rooms lies the journal Chloe desperately seeks. When she realizes the brooding, handsome earl is hunting the same quarry, Chloe enters into an uneasy partnership. But in the face of public danger and enemies hiding in plain sight, both must decide how much they’re willing to risk to solve the mysteries of the heart.
Chloe considered telling her sister that there was such a thing as knowing too much, but she bit back the rejoinder and kept silent instead, unwilling to take their conversation in that particular direction.
“In all likelihood you’ll be right and my interest in whoever he is will prove pointless.” Fiona said as they passed a row of elm trees. Like a curtain pushed aside, they gave way to an impressive view of Thorncliff, the towering walls dwarfing anyone standing before them and likening them to ants. “Come to think of it, he did seem rather dull—as if it made no difference to him that he was about to arrive at the most fantastic estate in England. He should have been staring out of the window of that carriage with keen enthusiasm. Most young gentlemen would do so, but he did not.”
“No,” Chloe agreed as they turned onto the driveway that would take them straight up to the front door. “Perhaps coming here disagrees with him.”
“I can’t imagine why,” Fiona said. “It’s the most fascinating place in the world!”
“You say so only because you have not traveled the world.”
“Perhaps that’s our answer,” Fiona suggested. “Perhaps the man we saw, whoever he may be, has traveled to so many fine places that Thorncliff fails to entice.”
“Or maybe he’s just not the adventurous sort,” Chloe offered. “He may simply enjoy reading a good book, in which case he has no need of coming here at all and probably considers Thorncliff a complete waste of time.”
The words brought Fiona to an immediate halt. “Do you find it a complete waste of time, Chloe?”
A rush of emotion swept through Chloe. It almost felt as if an ebbing tide was tugging at her belly. “Of course not. Why on earth would you think such a thing when I’ve already told you how happy I am to be spending more time with you and the rest of the family?”
A puff of air escaped Fiona in the form of a sigh. “Perhaps you wanted to be kind and spare my feelings?”
Taking her sister by the hand, Chloe held on fast as she gazed into her troubled young eyes. “No. I would never be dishonest with you.”
“Are you certain? Because I am well aware of your fondness for reading as well as your lack of enthusiasm for socializing at the moment. Are you sure you wouldn’t have rather stayed at home with your books?”
Closing her eyes, Chloe struggled to ease the nerves that threatened to send her heart racing. “No. I would not. The Thorncliff library is vast. I mean to explore it during my stay here. As for socializing . . . I’ve just spent a year in mourning, Fiona. I need time to readjust.”
“I’m sorry,” Fiona said, biting her lip. “I just wish that I could do more to make you happy.”
“I am happy,” Chloe assured her. At the very least, she was free now, and that was pretty much the same thing. “Come, let’s find out who Lord Hainsworth’s companion is so we can put your curiosity to rest.”