Lady Violet and Sebastian MacHeath are trying to forge a cordial marriage out of unlikely beginnings. When they are invited to a summer house party, they accept, hoping to make the excursion into a belated wedding journey of sorts–or at least a respite from meddling relatives. No sooner do they arrive, than their host’s ward is accused of petty wrongdoing. As the charges escalate into familial acrimony and worse, Violet determines that a scheme is afoot to discredit the young man.
Unraveling the mystery before a criminal investigation goes too far will require that Sebastian and Violet trust one another as they haven’t in years. They can get to the bottom of the unfortunate developments at the house party, but can they solve the mystery of how to be husband and wife in more than name?
While Lady Violet Belmaine is busy sorting out the odd turns her life has recently taken, Hugh St. Sevier repairs to his Kent estate in hopes of embarking on the placid life of a rural physician. Alas, for St. Sevier, the village of St. Ivo has more secrets than it has pots of heartease, and the good doctor will once again find himself the target of rumors and threats.
Somebody is rigging St. Ivo’s hound races, setting neighbor against neighbor, and turning what should be a friendly entertainment into an occasion for brawling. As an expert on medicinal herbs and soporifics, St. Sevier comes under suspicion. St. Ivo badly needs a physician, and the village also needs somebody to unravel the intrigues that are tearing it apart. St. Sevier can’t get to the bottom of the mystery on his own, but help–in the persons of Lady Violet and Sebastian MacHeath, is on the way!
Lady Violet Belmaine is just finding her balance as a widow who has recently put off mourning when she’s summoned to the family seat to celebrate a sibling’s wedding. Hugh St. Sevier’s escort makes the journey somewhat bearable, while Sebastian MacHeath‘s presence among the guests is a more dubious blessing.
Violet is managing as best she can with her stubborn Papa, difficult brothers, and well meaning aunties, when the bride goes missing. Tempers flare, old secrets come out at the worst times, and Violet can rely on only St. Sevier and Sebastian to help her find the bride… until she discovers that St. Sevier was the last person seen with the missing lady!
Why must a widow newly emerged from mourning be invited to every wedding in the realm? Lady Violet Belmaine ponders that conundrum while traveling from London to rural Scotland at the invitation of an old friend. Escorted by her dashing physician friend, Hugh St. Sevier, Violet prepares to again subject herself to a nuptial celebration, except… the groom fails to appear.
Matters become more interesting when Violet discovers that Sebastian MacHeath is laird of the nearest castle, and well acquainted with the bride and her family. Mysterious cousins, surly neighbors, and appearances much at variance with the facts all confound Violet’s efforts to find the missing groom, and any designs she might have on her handsome escort!
Having enjoyed her tour of the Scottish countryside, Lady Violet Belmaine is reluctant to return to London. Her escort, Hugh St. Sevier, suggests a detour to the Lakes, where his former army connections have invited him to renew old acquaintances. Violet is happy to enjoy the breathtaking scenery, but all is not right with St. Sevier’s friends.
Their host’s estate is struggling, several marriages from the old regiment appear to be faltering, and somebody is intent on making a bad situation worse. From slashed portraits to sheep trampling the garden, St. Sevier’s former comrades are engaged in some sort of rural war against an unknown foe. Sebastian MacHeath arrives to help solve the mystery, but his presence only makes matters more tense. Violet refuses to leave without putting the puzzle pieces together, no matter how dangerous the process or how shocking the eventual solution.
If it’s not weddings, then hapless widows are expected to attending christenings… Lady Violet returns with St. Sevier to her family seat, and finds Derwent Hall at sixes and sevens upon the occasion of her nephew’s christening. Other guests have brought their children along to celebrate the occasion, and Sebastian MacHeath is on hand to serve as godfather.
Nobody seems to be getting along, despite the happy nature of the gathering. Summer heat builds to an unbearable crescendo as clandestine affairs, marital troubles, and family tensions escalate. Then somebody starts stealing little girls, and Lady Violet must figure out who, why, and how the kidnapper can be foiled.
Lady Violet has decided that life in noisy, crowded, busy London is simply not her cup of tea. Her search for a rural property to purchase must be set aside when she learns that Hugh St. Sevier has been accused of murder. Worse, the handsome physician is doing nothing to aid those trying to exonerate him.
Though it requires out-smarting the magistrate, enlisting the aid of Sebastian, Marquess of Dunkeld, and literally poking around in the undergrowth, Violet is determined to prove her friend’s innocence–with or without St. Sevier’s cooperation. Solving the crime also means Violet must face a few of her own demons, and find peace with a past that has proven even more vexatious than this most challenging mystery!
Lady Violet Belmaine emerges from two years of mourning less than enthusiastic about resuming her place in Polite Society. She’s talked into attending a country house party by her French physician friend, Hugh St. Sevier, only to find that the house party guests are preyed upon by a mysterious thief.
Among the guests is Sebastian MacHeath, Marquess of Dunkeld. Violet once considered Sebastian her closest confidant, but war and the passing years have changed him. Nonetheless, when Sebastian’s valet, another veteran, comes under suspicion, Violet, St. Sevier, and Sebastian must work together to discover the true culprit, lest an innocent man be sent to the gallows for crimes he did not commit.