Lady Alessandra della Giamatti is not just another pretty face, but she's also one of the foremost experts in Roman artifacts and archeology. She's intelligent, sharp-tongued, and harbors a secret. A secret large enough to cause her to flee Italy in the hopes that England can help her hide from her past.
"Black Jack" Pierson is the best friend of Lucas (our hero from To Sin With A Scoundrel) and since Alessandra also happens to be a very good friend of Ciara (our heroine from TSWAS), they've had several encounters - all which have been rather unpleasant. Jack is more reserved and temperamental than Lucas. He also has a secret- although his isn't quite as deadly as Alessandra's. His is more of a secret talent and passion.
Alessandra lends her expertise to a crew working on excavating some very valuable Roman finds in the city of Bath. Unbeknown to her, Lord Jack Pierson was also invited to attend the same excavation so that he can employ his artistic skills and historical knowledge. Alessandra received word that her past is quickly catching up with her so she hopes that this trip to Bath will provide her some measure of safety. She certainly doesn't expect to not only encounter Jack who is infuriating and deliciously tempting at the same time, but a menace from her past who has found his way into her present. Her life and that of her daughter's are now being threatened if she doesn't help with his evil plot. Jack overhears several conversations between Alessandra and said villain, but is she really in trouble? Or is she in cahoots with him to steal what would be a very valuable ancient artifact?
Alessandra doesn't just dump her past into the story, but rather gives you bit by bit so that you [as the reader:] can go filling in the blanks. I also loved the dialogue between Alessandra and Jack. Their "zingers" at each other will keep you smiling. Eventually, Alessandra realizes that she's in over her head and allows Jack to help her. He becomes her proverbial "pillar of strength".
Overall, I enjoyed this second installment in Cara Elliott's Circle of Sin series. One of my favorite elements of her stories are her characters. I love to read about characters who are strong, intelligent and well-developed. Characters who have secrets and vulnerabilities just like all of us, but are still confident and know what they want. I also like the mystery and plots that Cara weaves into her tales. Her stories have romance, passion, dastardly villains, and enough mystery to keep you intrigued. What I would have liked to have seen is their relationship stretched a little more. There was rather limited screen time in which to fit in a budding romance, archeological "shop talk", a nefarious plot with a villainous blackmailer, and the set-up of the third book in the series.
I remain a fan of Cara Elliott's work. She is a delightful person and very talented author. I would recommend her books to all lovers of romance. I am looking forward to Kate & Marco's story next!