This is the final book in the Carhart duology plus novella series, published by Harlequin (ergo, early works of Milan). I knew the couple from book one in the series, and I was excited to see their story. I don't get many romances that are about a married couple, but I love that trope so much and this book did not disappoint on that front.
That prologue was a shot in the arm and a bridge to create a more mature imagine of the hero (Ned), who was an immature in the first book. I was hooked and ended up overcooking the pasta (danger in reading while cooking dinner) because I was too busy getting sucked into the story. Just as in book one, there are sensitive topics dealt with wonderfully and real conflict. I rooted for Kate and Ned, both as individuals and as a couple. Kate was hilarious and so smart and brave. Seriously, I wanted to buy her a pint at the local pub after finishing the book. Ned was really redeemed in this story. The historical aspect of the story was a bit more woven into the story rather than used as flavoring (such as the Anglo-Chinese opium wars).
However, yet again the story needed a strong edit to remove some of the repetitive angst. I skimmed a lot of inner dialogue in this book. The enhanced version of the ebook I had went unused/unread as well. Too much page count bloat (also, the number of excerpts at the back of the book need to be edited down as well).
I would recommend books one and two to readers of historical romance (especially those who tire of "all Regency, all the time" - these books are set in early Victorian era), but would also advise to skip the novella.
#0.5 This Wicked Gift (novella)
#1 Proof by Seduction
#2 Trial by Desire