On the eve of his 30th birthday, Derek Eagen, the Duke of Westwood, having failed to find a wife, is prepared to lose his title and land. Then he meets, falls for, and weds Catherine McCabe without disclosing his status as an aristocrat. Will mistaken identity drive them apart before their love story even begins?
When Derek meets Catherine for the first time, she's dressed in men's clothing and digging for something on his property. When he confronts her, she faints, and Derek nurses her back to health. When she wakes up, she confesses that she is looking for a key her grandmother buried years ago—and mentions that she distrusts the aristocracy. In order to learn more about her, the duke pretends to be his own estate manager and offers to help her find her grandmother's key. He learns that she has run away from her family, which, having recently ascended to the ranks of the aristocracy upon the death of her father's older brother and nephew, has promised her hand to a viscount 30 years her senior. Derek and Catherine quickly fall in love and are married just a few days before the duke's 30th birthday—his deadline to find a wife or forfeit his title. When Catherine finds out that she's been tricked into marrying a member of the gentry, she finds his dishonesty unforgivable. A side story involving Catherine's sister, a flu epidemic, and a death scare are among the things that keep the story moving, though each problem is solved so quickly and/or easily that readers might struggle to maintain interest. The sex is plentiful if somewhat inconsistent, including an encounter that happens in spite of a pretty clear lack of consent.
Insta-love, a contrived plot, and florid dialogue might leave all but Force's (Fatal Invasion, 2018, etc.) hardcore fans wanting.