REVIEW of A Lady Unrivaled (Ladies of the Manor, #3), by Roseanna M. White

Lady UnrivaledElla Myerston didn’t know that the earrings she borrowed from her sister-in-law contained the mysterious Fire Eyes, but once she finds out, she is determined to break the curse and restore them to their original owners. As she visits her friend Brook, Lady Stafford, she finds herself intrigued by Brook’s cousin-in-law, Lord Cayton. The moody but handsome Cayton is still in mourning for his wife, doting upon his nine-month-old daughter Addie but shutting the rest of the world out. When the villains come looking for the Fire Eyes, Ella and Cayton concoct a pretend courtship to throw them off the scent–but even though their daily visits in the library and walks in the garden are “pretend,” they both know that something real is glimmering underneath.

Once upon a time Lord Cayton had enjoyed some forbidden trysts with Brook’s cousin Melissa. That was before he broke the girl’s heart by marrying a rich heiress, and then broke his wife’s heart by never learning to love her before it was too late. Now, he has his daughter Addie to care for and his guilty feelings to suffer. His cousin Justin, Lord Stafford has been teaching him to find hope, but is it too much to hope that he can atone for his past and find happiness with a ray of sunshine like Ella Mysterston?

Ella was my favorite of the heroines in this series. She was bright and sunny without being annoying, and she was enterprising and whimsical without being…well, annoying. Cayton was a character who was difficult to appreciate at first but seemed right for Ella in the end. His role in the previous two books showed him as a weak man, willing to acquiesce to the wrong thing. In this third book, he is on the path to redemption. Ella, like her brother Brice in the previous book, is the lodestar, the constant character with unwavering faith upon whom Cayton can depend–and yet, she knows that she cannot be his salvation if he has not found salvation first.

I was delighted to see all the threads from the previous books wrap up nicely in the grand finale as the saga of the Fire Eyes comes to an end.

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