Merry, an American heiress in Regency England, meets her perfect match, the Duke of Trent; unfortunately, she has a reputation as a runaway fiancee, and she’s betrothed to his twin brother.
After two ill-fated engagements, Merry Pelford has come to England to find a husband. Swept off her feet by the handsome and charming Lord Cedric Allardyce, she agrees to be his wife just moments before she meets a mysterious, compelling stranger who she soon discovers is her brother-in-law-to-be, the Duke of Trent. Trent and Cedric are obviously not on the best of terms, and Merry misinterprets the duke's quiet warnings about his brother’s drinking and profligate ways as nothing more than competitive sour grapes—and tries to ignore the blazing chemistry she shares with him. But once the engagement is established, Cedric begins to pick at nearly every aspect of Merry’s person and personality, while the duke clearly wants her just as she is, which is confusing and attractive. Merry is a bright fish-out-of-water who isn’t intimidated by anyone and is unafraid to speak her mind, a situation that attracts Trent, embarrasses Cedric, and alternately fascinates and irritates the British aristocracy. At first Trent suppresses his interest in Cedric’s intended, but the more Merry is made to feel inadequate and unworthy, the more determined he becomes to have her for himself. Merry knows that jilting Cedric will ruin her completely, but when a social misstep humiliates a friendly hostess, Trent comes to the rescue and seals their fate in a surprising way. However, her supposedly fickle nature and his mistrust of tender emotions may prove potent obstacles to a happy-ever-after. James’ newest historical starts slowly, but ultimately the nontraditional plot provides an interesting and moving take on courtship and marriage, plus an engaging American’s view of Regency England.
A gratifyingly lush, vibrant, and emotional romance.