When Lady Alexandra Morley, the Dowager Marchioness of Morley, was younger, she had been on the lookout for her Mr. Right, believing he would at least be a duke. After being disappointed by the Duke of Wallingford, she had accepted when the marquis proposed. At least he was wealthy. Newly engaged to a wealthy man, she had allowed her step-nephew to invest almost all of her jointure into his newly formed limited liability corporation, the Manchester Machine Works Company. Believing that the company made practical things like sewing machines and such, she did not see how it could fail, never dreaming that they actually made horseless carriages powered by steam. Now she is a penniless widow who has left England, fleeing from her creditors. In debt and responsible for her sister Abigail’s upkeep and dowry, she has gone to great lengths to keep their departure from England, as well as their destination, a secret. She has rented a castle in Italy for a year and accompanying her are her sister Abigail as well as her cousin, Lady Lilibet Somerton, and Lilibet’s small son.
As Alexandra arrives at an inn, she finds that three gentlemen, including the Duke of Wallingford, have arrived before her and have taken up all but one small room, which is not big enough for their party. Using her womanly wiles, she relies on the men being gentlemen and giving up their rooms to the women. Although the duke is very disgruntled about the situation, the men give in. Later, as they dine, Lady Morley cannot believe that the men mean to stay a year in Italy studying, especially knowing the duke’s reputation as she does. So the men and the women make a wager. Whoever stays the longest will win and the loser will have to post it in the newspaper as well as vacate the premises immediately. Leaving the inn the next morning, the three men and three women are shocked to discover that they have rented the same castle.
With no other solution, they agree to split the castle, with the men in one wing and the women in the other, only meeting for supper. But Finn is having trouble concentrating, especially with Lady Morley seeking him out, expressing interest in his project and offering to be his assistant. He is attracted to the woman and doesn’t know that she has an ulterior motive…she needs to learn all she can about the electric motor and the horseless carriage for the company she has invested in. But she quickly finds her desire for Finn competing with her need to improve her investment.
As they give into their feelings for each other, Finn is determined to get her to marry him. But to marry him, she would be taking a few steps down in society since she is a dowager marchioness and he is an illegitimate scientist. As for Alexandra, she doesn’t want it to seem like she is marrying Finn for his money. She wants an equal partnership. Can he convince her that love is the only thing that counts?
An exciting story, A LADY NEVER LIES, the first book in talented debut author Juliana Gray’s new AFFAIRS BY MOONLIGHT trilogy, is a witty, passionate historical romance that readers will find hard to put down. In the beginning, I found Alexandra to be an arrogant and manipulative woman, but as the story progresses, she begins to mature. As for Finn, he could not be a better hero. Additionally, setting the story in Italy is a refreshing change and the cursed castle with its secrets adds even more appeal to the story. This novel is an absolute delight and an auspicious start for Ms. Gray’s literary career. By combining humor, an intriguing plot, engaging characters, a horseless carriage race, danger, passion and love, Ms. Gray has penned a winning story. The three books in this trilogy involve the same three men and three women who are included in this novel. I highly recommend A LADY NEVER LIES and look forward to reading the next book in this enchanting series, A GENTLEMAN NEVER TELLS, starring Lord Roland and Lady Somerset. In the meantime, do not miss A LADY NEVER LIES!