Through a series of misunderstandings and miscalculations, headstrong Lady Brenna Harrington propositions, seduces and weds Lord Richard Ellerby; can they overcome emotional and physical pitfalls to find happiness?
When Brenna mistakes Ellerby for a highwayman, she proposes to pay him to court her in order to appease her father, who’s determined to marry her off to an unpalatable choice. Ellerby, shocked but intrigued, sends her away then writes to her father to tell him of Brenna’s dangerous overture. Meanwhile, Richard is hunting for his beloved sister, convinced she’s eloped with a known womanizer. Brenna follows him on his trek to Scotland, determined to convince Richard to enter into a marriage of convenience. When she finds him in an inn, they are both overcome by an electric attraction and wind up sleeping together. This sets in motion a series of actions and reactions that see the couple ambivalently married, with an obstacle course of people, events and misperceptions designed to keep them apart physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, the plot zips from conflict to conflict without the emotionally satisfying exposition or textured dialogue that would allow the story to unfold. Also, the choices the two main characters make are occasionally so ridiculous that by the end of the book, we're not convinced we care what happens to them. (For instance, there is a female houseguest who continually disrespects Brenna and constantly throws herself at Richard, and neither of them ever demands that the irritating woman leave. When Brenna expresses her anger and distress over the distasteful behavior, Richard is shocked, simply shocked, that his wife could ever feel threatened by the other woman.) Smith is a smooth writer, and the book has an engaging beginning with an appealing series concept. But there are too many plot elements, and the complicated story is further bogged down by poor pacing and characterization, awkward construction and a jerky narrative that drops details that should be emotionally processed throughout the book, but which only gracelessly resurface when it’s apparently time to revisit them for the sake of the next strained plot twist.
Disappointing execution of an intriguing Regency hook.