Will Ives, the bastard of the late marquess, is as strong, handsome, and smart as his titled brothers, but he has no interest in society or book learning. His unique gift for training highly-prized rescue dogs is all he needs. His peace is shattered the day the beautiful but eccentric Lady Aurelia demands his help in finding a child no one knows is missing.
The daughter of a duke, Lady Aurelia has everything: wealth, beauty, and a family known for their good works. Unfortunately afflicted with hyper-acute hearing, she spends most of her time cringing in her room. She wants to please her father and make a good match, but how can she when every dinner, tea, and ball is pure torture?
When a child only she can hear cries for help, Aurelia must find a way to turn her affliction into the gift it is, before it’s too late. Will, in turn, must overcome his reluctance to work with a lady who makes him feel inadequate in all ways but one.
With the reluctant aid of Will and his dogs, the pair sets out on an unusual journey that will surely lead to heartbreak— or a love against all reason.
Book 6 in the Malcolm series which I received from LibraryThing as part of the Early Reviewers monthly batch. Will is one of the illegitimate Ives offspring, whose gift is “talking” to dogs and training them for search and rescue. He believes he knows what type of woman he should get married to – even has someone in mind – and just hopes that she will leave him in relative peace to do what he wants. Therefore, when he is confronted with the Lady Aurelia, she is apparently the exact opposite of his ideal woman: small, impossibly petite, rich and apparently more than a little scatter brained. However, the two off them go off to find a child lost in the woods that only Aurelia can hear. it is the result of finding this child that occupies the rest of the book, and brings the two people closer together, and allows both to find the peace they were looking for. We get to understand what it’s like for Aurelia to have such sensitive hearing, what Will manages to do for her without even trying, and what both suffer when they are apart from each other.
Will is the most steady of the Ives men, grounded with his dogs, and not prone to the fears of working in the higher echelons of society. Aurelia lives in that world of parties and multiple suitors clamouring for her attention, even if her attempts to tune the noises out makes her look rather dotty.
Since this has been written with a definite “mystery” slant, in investigating the near murder of a mother and her new born child, this has less of the humour associated with the previous books, where a large number of Ives and Malcolms in the same vicinity, with their unique talents can cause mayhem. Since there is no one relevant to this story up in Northumberland to give birth, there is no excuse for Aurelia and Will to have Sexy Time, until much later than normal in the story.
Having read a number of this previous books in the series (but not all) I believe this is one of the strongest and less chaotic in the series, and well worth the effort.