I've read all four of Burrowes books and was looking forward to this one the most, but sadly, I was pretty disappointed in it. The book was good, but as I've read more and more of Burrowes' work, I've gotten more and more unhappy with the dragging out of the hero/heroine's "secret." In The Virtuoso I was even more annoyed by this since I wasn't fond of our heroine either, and it was her secret.
Lord Valentine Windham, the Duke of Windham's youngest son, has made music his life, but since a mysterious inflammation of the joints in his hands he's had to curtail his passion for the piano. Depressed and terrified that he has lost his one true love (music), he decides that repairing the run down country home he won in a card game would be an excellent way to take his mind off his hand.
What he doesn't realize is that although he owns the home, he doesn't own the land attached to the estate. That belongs to the widowed Mrs. Ellen FitzEngle, with whom Val had a brief, but memorable, kiss with in the forest a few years back. Ellen has held a tendre for Val since that kiss, and Val still finds her floppy hats and love for gardening enchanting. But Ellen has secrets that she won't share, and Val thinks he knows one of the big ones...
I adore Val. He's been wonderful in the previous three novels, and watching him try and find himself without music as a crutch was fascinating. Ellen on the other hand is such a weak-seeming heroine. She has all these "secrets" which aren't really all that secret; add to that a too villainous villain and I was often just plain bored reading this book.
My complaint is the same with the other Burrowes' novels. They are too long, just going over every thing that the hero and heroine have already gone over - yet again. Every time I had to hear Val rip out his heart one more time trying to get Ellen to trust him with her secrets while Ellen sobs that they just can't be together, I felt like ripping my hair out. The rest of the story is good, but Burrowes' reliance on a plot device that seems too much like a Big Misunderstanding had me skimming through the book and nearly throwing it at walls.
Bottom Line: I REALLY wanted to love this book, but I just can't. If you've loved Burrowes' other books, or don't mind a lot of Romeo and Juliet angst, then you'll probably enjoy this one.