When an unhappily married woman gains a little freedom with widowhood, she decides to throw a house party, inviting the man who intrigues her but also, inadvertently, the man who wants to seduce her.
As a young woman, Lady Charlotte Cavendish made a bid for her happiness when she attempted to elope. Caught by her father and forced into a loveless marriage with an old lord, she's finally free now that her husband is dead and her mourning period is over. However, in her first foray into society, she dances with a known rake, who drags her into a shadowy hallway and kisses her, casting aspersions on her character. Mortified but also amused—she is, in fact, chaste, since her husband never demanded his marital rights—she decides to host a house party for her other widowed friends and the men they’ve expressed interest in. Her choice is Nash, the Earl of Wrotham, but she's interested in passion, not marriage. Accepting her invitation, he acknowledges their attraction, then comes to truly like her, only to be confounded by her claim that she never wants to wed again, since he wants a wife and her father would like him to marry her. They’re at cross-purposes, and the situation becomes more complicated when the rake returns to the picture, a gang of thieves threatens her home, and a variety of men—including her father—try to hamper her choices. An enjoyable read, though there’s a lot going on, the writing can be uneven, and Charlotte’s fickleness, especially toward the rake, gets irritating.
A generally entertaining romance.