An heiress and a penniless war hero enter into a secret marriage of convenience in the first book in a new Regency romance series.
To protect her shipping fortune from her greedy cousin, Georgiana Caversteed devises a desperate plan to marry a condemned prisoner. She does not realize that the prisoner is Benedict Wylde, second son of the late Earl of Morcott and a Bow Street Runner who was working undercover at Newgate Prison on assignment, until she sees him alive and well at a ball a few weeks later. Georgiana recovers quickly from the shock and convinces Benedict to pretend to court her until they can “marry” in public, saving her reputation, after which they can go their separate ways. Having served in the Rifles for three grueling years during the Peninsular War, Benedict and his two best friends opened the Tricorn Club, a casino in London, to make their fortunes and provide cover for their work on behalf of the crown. Benedict’s main preoccupation is paying down his family’s mountain of debt, but he is intrigued by the “vibrant, multifaceted” Georgie, whose “business-like brain…sharp wit, and…fearsome intellect…challenged him on so many levels.” When thwarting a treasonous plot requires both Benedict’s military skills and Georgie’s knowledge of ships, they become partners with benefits, most memorably in the close quarters of a tiny dry-docked submarine, where he raggedly confesses: “Every minute of the day. You make me crazy with wanting.” Bateman quickly dispenses with her protagonists’ antagonism in favor of genuine romance that shines through the many tired plot points.
Delightful leads and sexy capers tip the balance in favor of giving this one a try despite its predictable elements.