The Truth About Lord Stoneville. The Hellions of Halstead Hall is about five scandalous siblings who are given an ultimatum by their purse-string-holding grandmother to marry within the year. This is the eldest, Oliver's, story.
I have to say, having read most of Sabrina Jeffries's backlist that this novel was quite a bit darker than most of her other books. The book begins with a nasty murder-suicide. And much of the emotional drama is the natural fallout of that tragedy.
While I wouldn't classify this as the best Jeffries book I've ever read, it was definitely enjoyable. The hero was a bit annoying with his self-flagellation, but that's to be expected. And I did enjoy both the heroine, Maria, and her cousin. I really liked how compassionate Maria was. How willing she was to give Oliver the benefit of the doubt. The theme's a little trite--naive, refreshing American absolves rake of his real and imagined sins and reforms him--but the characters, as always, keep this from becoming yet another one of THOSE novels.
Quite a bit of time is taken to set up not just this book but the rest of the series--which tends to drag down the pacing a little. There's also the rushed ending, which seemed a bit anti-climactic. Overall, though, this was a good, if different, book for Ms. Jeffries, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
My Grade: B-