Lady Anne Addison arrives late one night to the Darkefell estate, on a mission to see her recently married friend who has sent her frantic letters demanding she come. But when Anne arrives, she discovers that no one is available to escort her to the manor, and she must travel up the road in the dark, by herself. On her way she hears a blood-curdling howl, and then screaming, followed by groans of pain. She follows the sound, intending to help the woman whose scream she heard, and instead finds her dead body. She does make it safely to the estate to report the death, but after this welcome she wonders what the rest of her stay has in store for her.
Lady Anne's friend, the Lady Lydia Bestwick, married to the younger brother of the Lord of Darkefell, has apparently not told anyone that Anne is to be expected, and no one knows quite what to make of her. She is not a typically feminine woman, and being plain-looking and independantly wealthy, she has decided she has no need of marriage or men. She finds herself rather ridiculously attracted to Lord Anthony, the marquess of Darkefell, and he is typically arrogant and gruff, with smoldering good-looks, as many heroes are. Anne is determined to find out what killed the girl that she found, and she is equally determined to not believe in any of the stories of werewolves that the locals insist are real. Lord Darkefell is determined to keep his family's secrets safely hidden from the destructively inquisitive Lady Anne, at the same time as finding himself strangely attracted to her. They are continually at odds with each other as they both try to solve the mystery of the maid's death.
This was a rather entertaining read, although disappointing in some respects. The mystery itself is not very well written, and resolved a bit too quickly at the end. The romance that obviously develops between Lord Darkefell and Lady Anne is well done, but left unfinished, I suppose to set it up for a sequel. Lady Anne's character is entertaining, as is Lord Darkefell's, while most of the rest of the characters are necessary stereotypes. A few exceptions are there of course - Lord Darkefell's secretary, a rescued slave, is an interesting addition, and Lady Anne's cat, Irusan, adds humor and depth to her character. Overall this book was a fun, quick read.
This is the first book for my participation in the Romance Reading Challenge. I only need to read five, and I have that many in the stacks of books waiting to be read, so I think it will work out! This book also qualifies for the RYOB Challenge and New Author Challenge.