I think it has to be said that there's a definite 'wounded hero appeal' - a hope that this man, who has been through a truly awful experience, can finally have the happily-ever-after that he always dreamed of.
And Richard does long for true love to come his way. Or at least he did before going to war and returning a broken man. His life now revolves around revenge, the dreams he used to have of one day marrying, crushed and forgotten.
Because of the scars he wears, Richard is something of a recluse, not showing himself to anyone other than his brother, his father and his secretary, while plotting his vengeance against the man who once betrayed him. When he meets Sarah for the first time toward the end of Lady Sarah's Sinful Desires and she asks to see him without the mask, Richard bows to her wishes, only to find that her response is not what he'd expected:
Watching as she made her way toward his brother with tentative footsteps, Christopher waited for her reaction — some startled response when her eyes finally settled upon the burned flesh that rippled across the right side of Richard’s face. But when Sarah halted no more than two feet from where Richard was standing, her expression registered neither pity nor horror. On the contrary, she appeared to study him for a while, her brow creased to signify deep contemplation until she finally said, “It’s not nearly as bad as I expected.”
Sarah's words of encouragement will resonate in His Scandalous Kiss when Mary also asks to see what Richard is hiding beneath the mask. But his fears of revealing himself are strengthened by his growing fondness for her, prompting him to resist.
Instead, they form a relationship founded on character, personality and shared interests. Richard's need for adventure matches Mary's, as does his love of music:
He remained completely still, confounded by her courage. “So you wish to cultivate a friendship in the hope that it may blossom into something more?” he carefully asked.
“And if it does not?”“Then I shall have had the pleasure of sharing the company of a man whom I genuinely like and admire — one who also happens to share my fondness for music.”
Richard is one of these tragic figures whose bright and shining future was snatched away in the blink of an eye. He has given up hope completely and feels no joy or happiness, only anger and resentment. Watching him deal with all of that pain and move past it to a point where hope can finally exist once more, is admirable.
But it wouldn't have been possible if he weren't noble and good to the core. His sense of justice is not misplaced and he does not lie or deceive. And once his heart is won, he will do everything in his power to protect those he loves.